Demonstrating global hunger
Joud Bayeh | reporter
The title “Hunger Banquet” may sound like an occasion for a filling meal, and that is precisely what it was – for three people.
The rest of the more than 50 students who attended, at a cost of $1 or a donation of one canned good, were deprived of the complete course of fresh salad, bread and rigatoni with meat sauce.
The lucky few upper-class guests got their food first, and were seated with full service at an elegantly decorated table in the front of the Crimson and Gold Ballroom at Overman Student Center.
Forty percent of the attendees drew a middle-class ticket and received noodles with marinara sauce and bread, though they had to get their food themselves. The remaining 55 percent, representing the lower class, were treated to a small portion of cold noodles and old bread. The lower-class people also had to sit on the floor.
Contained in all of this, say volunteers from community-service fraternity Alpha Phi Omega and Residence Hall Assembly, is a lesson: The lower class might have been treated relatively poorly, but even they had it much better off than the 900 million people of the world who suffer from chronic hunger. That is three times the population of the United States.
“The goal of this event is to raise awareness about it in the USA,” said Kelsey Neiger, junior in elementary education and president of Alpha Phi Omega. Neiger says that the event was timed with January, National Poverty Awareness Month, in mind.
One of the upper-class guests says he felt the social pressure of his fortune relative to both the lower-class guests and all people who are affected by food shortage.
“I feel I don’t need all this food,” said Nicolas Philip Mancuso, sophomore in justice studies. “I learned it’s possible to do something by not being so wasteful and also knowing what’s going on in my community.”
The Pittsburg community benefited from the event, which raised about $66 through a business arrangement with Wheat State Pizza.
Wesley House, a food pantry and outreach ministry of the First Methodist Church in Pittsburg, received about 90 percent of that amount, plus the ticket proceeds and donated canned food. The rest went to Oxfam America, an international relief and development organization that operates in famine-inflicted communities.
Ryan Million, senior in recreation, who was placed in the lower class at the banquet, said the experience helped him learn that his ordinary standards for a meal aren’t a necessity, relative to what people around the world must deal with.
“This was really an eye-opener to the situation the world has been facing,” he said. “I learned it’s possible to do something by not being so wasteful and also knowing what’s going on in my community.”
Lindsey Greve, senior in family and consumer sciences, who sat at a middle-class table, says she is determined to change her approach to charity as a result of her experiences at the event.
“From now, I’ll try to change,” she said. “I’ll be more grateful for what I have and try to give more, volunteering, donating food and money.”
These sentiments were part of why the event was a success, says Austin Garret, Residence Hall Assembly vice president and freshman in biology.
“(It also) as a secondary goal allowed RHA to get its name out,” he said.