e-Newsletter of Moravian College and Moravian Theological Seminary | November 29, 2012 Twitter Facebook

Hunger Banquet highlights poverty issues

Some participants in the Hunger Banquet ate rice and water while seated on the floor.
Photo by Karen Purkey '13

The 2012 Hunger Banquet, held on November 13, gave Moravian students an opportunity to experience a reenactment of the current worldwide disparity of resources and food. About 30 students gathered in the HUB to attend the Hunger Banquet, hosted by the Emerging Leader’s class. 

Upon entering the UBC Room, students were told to draw a random slip of paper, which contained a character role for the student to play for the evening, with a short biographical description and economic status. Students were assigned to sit in groups determined by that socioeconomic status. After giving students a chance to settle into their places and read the descriptions they were given of their individual characters, the program began. Michelle Rickert ’16, Megan Mummey ’16, and Kaitlyn Gill ’16, members of the 2012 Emerging Leaders class, welcomed everyone to the Hunger Banquet, and then Gill introduced each of the three economic groups in the room.

First, seated at a linen-covered table, set with silverware, cloth napkins and decorative red candlesticks, were the privileged minority of high-income individuals. They represented 15 percent of the world’s population with a per capita income of $12,000 or more per year. Gill told this group, “You have access to virtually everything you need and the security to enjoy it.” These five lucky students were served a delicious and nutritious, locally grown, three-course meal by a wait staff.

Secondly, seated in a row of chairs, were the middle-income individuals, who represented about 35 percent of the world’s population, earning between $987 and $11,999 per year. “You live on the edge. For many of you it would take losing only one harvest to drought, or a serious illness, to throw you into poverty.” These students were invited to go through a buffet line where they received bowls of beans and rice.

Finally, seated on the floor amid crumpled newspapers and rocks, were the low-income individuals. They represented the majority of the world’s population—about 50 percent—who earn less than $986 a year. “Every day is a struggle to meet your family’s basic needs,” Gill told the students who represented this economic group. A large pot of rice and a pitcher of water were set on the floor among the students, and they were told to help themselves.

Information was available at the "Do Something" table.
Photo by Karen Purkey '13

The meal was followed by discussions about what students learned from the experience, and ideas for how to better balance the world’s resources. Kate Cohen ’13 instructed students to “realize you are privileged and give back for that privilege.” Margaret DeOliveira ’13 suggested that one of the best ways to start a change is to create a conversation. “If people are talking about it, they’re thinking about it, and then they might go do something about it.”

The Hunger Banquet provided students with the opportunity to start thinking and talking about hunger and poverty issues. Students also were invited to stop by the “Do Something” table, where information was available about various opportunities for students to volunteer their time and do something to help prevent hunger.

(All statistics are based on global statistics taken from the Oxfam American Hunger Banquet script.)