Students gathered in Mount Vernon’s Eckles Library to participate in a hunger banquet March 30 to discover ways to prevent famine.
Chairwoman Lakshmi Iyer, a freshman in the Women in International Leadership Program, organized the banquet as a symposium for her leadership initiative course. Iyer got the idea from her teaching assistant, who did a hunger banquet when she was an undergraduate.
She suggested that I do (the banquet), and it sounded like a good idea, Iyer said.
Participants in the banquet were randomly divided into three groups as they entered the room. The largest group of students sat on the floor, fewer sat in chairs and the smallest group sat at a dining table.
When the meal arrived, those at the table – representing 15 percent of the world population – were served a gourmet meal complete with dessert. Students sitting in the chairs – representing 30 percent of the population – had to wait in line for a meal of wild rice and beans. Those seated on the floor – representing 55 percent of the population – were given one bowl of white rice and dirty tap water and ate with their hands.
Carolyn Carver, a freshman in the International Leadership Program, seated among the luxury class, said this event was an eye-opener.
I consider myself lucky, and coming face-to-face with (the lack of resources on the floor) I felt bad, Carver said.
It is important to remember these are income groups you represent, not countries, said Liz Carty, a speaker from Oxfam America. Oxfam America is a non-profit organization that provides underdeveloped communities worldwide with monetary aid to alleviate hunger and poverty.
Having students sit in these groups was a metaphor for resources in the world, Carver said. We all have the same needs, just different circumstances.
When asked what students can do to combat hunger, Carty told them to F.A.S.T.- that is fund raise for a charity group that does good work, advocate to change policies that keep people hungry, shop at companies that are socially responsible and teach others about the causes and solutions to global hunger.
Get involved, Carty said. What you do will make a difference.