Banquet shows awareness of world hunger

By Jill C. Hindman
November 16, 2000

Joe Holden

by Jill C. Hindman
assistant features editor

Here is some food for thought.

When we are hungry we go to the refrigerator and grab something to snack on.

When Thanksgiving rolls around we all look forward to a nice big turkey dinner. When someone comes to visit us we offer them something to eat. These are luxuries that we all take pleasure in without even realizing it. Food is something that we take for granted.

“Every 3.6 seconds a person dies from hunger. That adds up to 24,000 people a day,” said Dr. Mary Laver, campus minister, as she started off the Hunger Banquet held in the mansion this past Monday night.

The Hunger Banquet was held in honor of hunger awareness. With the holiday season just around the corner our minds and hearts go out to those who are less fortunate than we are.

The Hunger Banquet is a unique and interactive way to show the realities of hunger in our world today. As students walked through the mansion doors they took on a new identity. Everyone was to pick an envelope out of a woven wicker basket. The envelope chose each person’s destiny for the night.

Each envelope contained a script, which gave a brief summary of each person you were going to be for the evening. Also, inserted was a nametag with a name already chosen for each participant.

The basket held three possibilities.

Those who were lucky enough to choose a green nametag were among the high-income population. They sat at a long, rectangular dining table with silverware, glass cups to drink from and a nicely folded crisp napkin in front of them. On their table, pitchers of iced tea and lemonade were set out for their drinking pleasure. They had a selection of yummy edibles to choose from. A table displaying salad, cream of mushroom soup, a mix of vegetables, pasta, chicken, dinner rolls and cake for dessert were inviting them to indulge. Few sat there.

The hands that picked a red nametag were to be members of the middle-income population. These people sat at tables, but had no place settings, only plastic utensils, napkins and plastic cups and plates. They were set in the middle of circular tables that were covered in white tablecloths. Their meal consisted of rice and beans. Dinner rolls were also available. A pitcher of water was set in the middle of the table for anyone whose mouth got a little dry from the rice and bread. More people frequented this section.

The blue nametags belonged to those who made up the low-income population. These people used the same utensils as the middle class, but they sat on the floor. Set in the center of their circle was a big bowl of rice and a pitcher of water. Both were passed around and shared among the group. This group was the largest of the three.

As the dinner progressed some members of the upper class had been demoted to the lower class because of a loss of a job, or pay decrease. Some members of the lower class were promoted to the middle class because of something they did in their workplace. Anyone who was moved from one class to another was not permitted to bring food with them. They then assumed a new role.

When students were asked to move from one class to another, especially from the lower class to the middle class, they were reluctant. They did not want to leave their fellow members behind. There was a unity.

Some gave food to the lower classes. Some stole food from the upper classes. “When you don’t have access to what you need you do what you have to do to get it,” said John DiMucci, campus minister, when reflecting on the banquet and what took place.

“I think it’s educational because it is so visual. It is an eye-opener,” said senior Chrissy Karney. Karney has participated for the past three years. Each year she has been a member of the low-income group.

First-time participant junior Jessica Storck was also a member of the low-income group.

“This really makes me think about how privileged I am. If I ate like this everyday I would probably die. It doesn’t seem fair. A lot of times I take what I have for granted. I don’t realize that I have so much,” Storck said.

Although the low-income group was only allowed rice they seemed not to mind. They began their meal with a prayer. The group with so little started by thanking God for what they had.

Sophomore Erin Lally was a red nametag holder, which gave her the privilege of eating not only rice, but beans and bread too.

“It makes everyone aware of how much food is wasted and how some people get so much and others so little,” Lally said.

First-year student Brian Fry agreed and added, “This is very informative and fun too.”

“Being here and participating makes me feel bad when I read the statistics and learn the reality of how many people actually die each day from hunger,” said sophomore Alexis Strizziere, who was one of the very few lucky enough to be a member of the high income group.

First-year student Gina Treml, who sat along side Strizziere at the elaborate dinning table, said, “It makes me think about how much food is actually wasted.”

The students who participated seemed to get a lot out of the night. It ended with a reflection from the students on how they felt and what they got out of it. There was a positive energy that filled the room as the students spoke about their feelings on the banquet.

“Those of us who were sitting on the floor could eat and not feel guilty about it. We drew a card and ended up where we are. It’s like life, you are born into it. You didn’t do anything to get there. You go where you go,” said first-year student Claire DalleMolle when asked how she felt being in the group she was in.

The banquet ended with a prayer. Everyone stood in a circle and held hands. Laver reminded everyone that there was twice as many people in the room because the identities handed out in the beginning of the night were in fact real. Everyone stood in silent prayer reflecting on what they had learned and praying for those that they had spent the night representing.

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Jill C. Hindman

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