Students raise awareness at hunger banquet

By Gillian Davis
February 19, 2009

Walking into the Cabrini Mansion, a person would expect glamour and warmth. However, on Wednesday, Feb. 11, the Poverty Awareness Campaign and Catholic Relief Services Food Security ambassadors greeted students by handing out color coded name tags to represent what social class they belonged to for the annual Hunger Banquet.

The blue dotted name tags represented the extremely poor, the tags that were marked red symbolized the middle class and finally the purple dotted name tag held the rich status.

“I can’t believe I’m extremely poor and my friend pulled out the rich name tag,” Caitlin Gill, senior elementary education major, said. “She gets to eat cake while I sit on the floor and eat rice.”

The rich social status equal 10 percent of the world’s population. Middle class make up 60 percent of the population. The remaining 30 percent of the world population represents the extremely poor. The way the name tags were handed out was for every 10 people that came into the Mansion, six people were poor, three people were in the middle class and one person was wealthy.

As students filed into the dining room of the mansion, they saw two tables and a space on the floor where jugs of water were filled. One little table was lit by candlelight and decorated with buttered bread, garden salad, silverware, cloth napkins and two fancy glasses filled with water and juice.

The next table had macaroni and cheese and string beans. Both meals were accompanied by plastic cups, plastic dishes and plastic forks and knives.

On the floor, huddled in a circle, there was a bowl filled with plain rice and plastic plates, cups and forks.

These were the dinners of people who attended the Hunger Banquet.

“The purpose of the event was to make people aware of the extreme poverty that exists all over the world,” Shannon Keough, junior English and communication major, said. “It’s hard to get college students to care about these issues, but providing an interactive experience makes more students come out and listen, instead of just hanging posters around campus about the issues.”

Keough, Beth Briggs and Chris Cantwell are all in the Poverty Awareness Campaign and CRS Food Security ambassador programs and ended up being the representatives and organizers for the committees. The students also had the help and aid of their faculty adviser Mary Laver.

The banquet was emceed by Dr. James Hedtke, professor and chair of history and political science,

who asked students to read aloud facts about extreme poverty.

Such facts were: 854 million

people across the world are hungry, which is more than the populations of the United States, Canada and the European Union. Last year, the total was 852 million.

“Each person’s place is randomly

determined,” Hedtke said. “It’s the luck of the draw.”

There was a guest speaker Daniel Flynn, who had spent a year of his life volunteering in Ecuador through the program Rostro de Cristo.

“At its most basic level, the program has volunteers living in Christian communities in poor neighborhoods in Durán, Ecuador

and they seek to see the face of Christ in those around them and to be the face of Christ to everyone

they meet,” Flynn said.

Flynn passed around photographs

he had taken during his time in Ecuador. As the pictures switched hands, Flynn told personal

stories and stories about the people in the pictures.

“With the current economic state of first world countries such as the United States its easy to forget those suffering in impoverished

third world nations,” Cantwell, junior history and secondary

education major, said. “It’s a good reminder that while our situation is not ideal, it could be a lot worse.”

The evening concluded with the leaders of the event thanking everyone for attending and then informing the students who only had a scoop of rice to eat that they had pizza waiting for them in the back.

“I was excited to attend again this year and it meant so much more to me after spending a week in solidarity with our Ecuadorian community,” Leah Hannan, senior

social work major, said. “I think our leaders did a great job in organizing this event and I hope other students were touched by it.

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Gillian Davis

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