Twelve Waikato high school students have made the 40 Hour Famine even harder for themselves by camping out at McDonald's while they fast for the good cause.

Students from Waikato Diocesan School for Girls and St Paul's Collegiate School last night slept in boxes at the fast-food restaurant in Hamilton and will stay again tonight while they continue the famine.

The group are participating in the One Weekend One Backpack challenge, the main theme of this year's World Vision famine.

Organiser Shae Creahan from Waikato Diocesan said she came up with the idea to camp inside a restaurant to make the famine more challenging.


"The idea is that if we put ourselves in a position where we can't eat but are surrounded by food you can get a better understanding of what it means to be hungry in a world where there is excess food."

The 17-year-old said she had done the famine before but this year it would be much harder being able to smell food constantly.

"I think we will get more out of it."

Instead of barley sugar lollies, which contain palm oil, the group would be allowed rations of fruit every few hours.

She and the other Year 13 students banded together following a World Vision conference.

St Paul's Collegiate School student Serena Lim-Strutt said she felt confident she could withstand the smell of food while doing the famine.

The group had already begun fundraising for the famine with bake sales at their schools and will have a donation box on site at McDonald's for visitors who want to support the effort.

This year the 40 Hour Famine is raising money for refugee children.

McDonald's customer Ken Holm said it would be a tough test for the students but it was for a worthy cause.

The hero challenge One Weekend One Backpack is about participants swapping everyday luxuries for essential items that can be carried in only one backpack.

The scenario is a reality for millions of children who have fled their homes in Syria since civil war broke out five years ago.

In total 6.6 million people have been displaced in the humanitarian crisis.

Actress Kim Crossman with a young Syrian refugee living in the Azraq Refugee Camp in Jordan. Photo / Supplied
Actress Kim Crossman with a young Syrian refugee living in the Azraq Refugee Camp in Jordan. Photo / Supplied

World Vision New Zealand chief executive Chris Clarke visited Syrian refugees and witnessed the effects of the crisis on children first-hand through the Forgotten Millions campaign.

"I saw and talked with so many children who had fled safe, beautiful lives. I just couldn't help but think of my own sons and how ... our family would cope.

"The 40 Hour Famine has always been about living in someone else's shoes and this year is no different." "

Funds raised will go towards developing child-friendly spaces in Jordan - home to more than 600,000 Syrian refugees.

The spaces provide safe learning environments where children can recover from the trauma of war through sports, arts and play, restart their education, and rebuild their lives in a supportive environment.