By Laura Riley
On Tuesday, November 12th, 72 students participated in Oxfam’s Hunger Banquet at St. Norbert College. Hunger Banquets are an Oxfam America Initiative that colleges across the country organize and host. Essentially, the evening is a hunger simulation based on worldwide income percentages. When students arrive at the banquet, their income tier is determined through a random drawing. The 15% in the high income tier are served a full, multi-course meal. The 35% in the middle tier are supplied with utensils and served rice, beans and water. The remaining 50% in the low-income tier are served rice and water without utensils. Throughout the dinner, St. Norbert Oxfam leaders discuss the impact that poverty has on hunger and what can be done to address the issue. Below are two reflections from participants and organizers of the event.
“I think the Hunger Banquet has a great impact on students because it offers a tangible and personal experience that makes the issues of hunger and poverty seem less foreign and abstract. Physically seeing the upper class eating a full and excessive meal right next to the lower class – as they eat a small portion of rice with water – brings some perspective to the inequalities of our global economic system. Although this issue is sad and often seems hopeless, it is entirely solvable, and we hope that this event motivated the participants to encourage and contribute to positive changes to help those who do not have the resources that they need to survive and function.”
Nora Eckert ‘17, Emerging Leader
“The Hunger Banquet was an amazing event because every participant could really feel the gravity of world hunger today. Instead of just listening to a presentation about world hunger, participants were able to gain a better grasp of the injustices of the distribution of food around the globe and hopefully leave feeling inspired to change them. I know I definitely did.”
Rachael Schubarth, Hunger Banquet Participant