JCU Community Gets a Taste of World Hunger

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“If one person takes a step, then we can make a change,” stated Eda, a study abroad student from Turkey when asked her opinion on the Oxfam Hunger Banquet event, held in the Tiber Café on November 21st and organized by the Universities Fighting World Hunger (UFWH) student group.

The Banquet served as an opportunity to educate students on the issue of world hunger. Each participant was given an identity card at the start of the event, which revealed stories of people from different socioeconomic backgrounds and how world hunger impacts their daily lives. Everyone was asked to assume the identity given and to act accordingly. Three meals were served, based on the income level of each participant. These with a low income card were asked to sit on the floor and received a bowl of rice; middle income participants ate pasta and vegetables, while high income ones were served pasta, vegetables, and dessert. The high income group’s tables were covered in tablecloths, and had place settings and bottled water.

Participants were also asked to role-play and share their stories, which helped foster dialogue. Dean Mary Merva, who attended and was an active participant in the role-play, stated that she thought the experience was “fantastic, especially because it is hard to put together such an event.” Martina, a study abroad student from Holland, expressed the discomfort that the event prompted. She found it difficult, as a member of the middle income group, to sit at a table while others had to sit on the floor.

Corine Quinn, Public Relations Director of the UFWH student group, gave a strong and dynamic presentation on the current status of world hunger, including the fact that every six seconds someone dies due to hunger. Quinn, UFWH President Mary Rideout, Treasurer Kathleen Preissing and Secretary Ayame Mei all stressed the fact that, while more than enough food is produced to feed the entire global population, the number of people suffering from hunger is steadily rising and the cost of grain has increased by 50%.

Guests were assigned a level of income upon entry (low, medium or upper) and based on this, they were seated in a specific area, along with others from their income level. They then received a meal appropriate to their income level. During the meal, attendees heard about global hunger issues, as they experienced first-hand the struggles faced daily by millions of people around the world.

For more information on Oxfam, please visit Oxfam.org.