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The Special Diet

by chantal klingbeil

Anna Knight was a nursing student at Battle Creek College. One day news came to the college about a terrible famine in India. Everyone felt very sorry for the people there, but what could be done?

Anna had come from a very poor family. Her mother had been a slave. Anna had taught herself to read and write and was working very hard to get an education. What could she do for the poor starving people in India?

Dr. John Kellogg, leader of the large hospital and nursing school, called everyone to a meeting to discuss the problem. He suggested that everyone who wanted to help go on a special diet for a week. This would be a very simple diet with only the basic foods that the cafeteria already had. Dr. Kellogg asked those who wanted to help by going on the special diet to raise their hands. Anna quickly put up her hand. As she looked around her she was surprised to see lots of other hands going up. More than 400 people decided to go on the special diet. 

In one section of the cafeteria, tables were set up for everyone on the special diet. The food at these tables was very simple. There were no desserts, no juice, just soup or rice and beans. No one left hungry, but no one could be picky, and no one wasted any food. All the money that would normally have been spent on food was saved. At the end of the week everyone was surprised to hear that they had saved $500 (about $12,000 today). Everyone was so happy to know that they could help starving people, so they decided to continue with the diet for another week. At the end of the second week they were able to send $1,000 to India to help buy food. 

A few years later Anna went to India as a missionary. She was surprised to find that five of the orphan children in her class had been saved from starvation by the money that she had helped to collect with her special diet. 

Today may be a good time to look at what we are eating. Perhaps we can go on a special diet, too, and donate the money we would spend on treats. In any case, it’s always a good time to be thankful for our food. 


This story is found in Mississippi Girl by Anna Knight, pages 73, 74.