Students experienced the effects of poverty firsthand last week as the Hunger Awareness Month Initiative continued.
The third annual Hunger Banquet took place in the UC Commons Nov.12. Two hundred students attended the event, which Campus Ministry organized as part of its annual campaign for hunger awareness.
Widian Nicola, resident campus minister for social justice, said the goal of the event was to “bring awareness to issues of poverty and hunger on both a global and domestic level.”
At the beginning of the event, volunteers asked each of the participants to pick a coin from an envelope, which determined their socioeconomic rank. This rank determined where they would sit at the banquet and what they would eat.
Participants were divided into three groups: the underdeveloped, the developing and the developed world. Those in the underdeveloped and developing worlds ate porridge and rice, while the few that were placed in the developed world ate baked chicken and mashed potatoes.
Local high school teacher and “freegan,” Janet Kalish, spoke to the crowd about her group’s philosophy on waste. Followers of freeganism believe society is wasteful, and are known for dumpster diving in search of wasted food which they argue is still edible.
“What if we composted every apple peel?” Kalish asked the crowd. “What if we agreed not to buy presents for each other? What if there were no flyers ending up on our doorsteps? What if they stopped making t-shirts right now? Would there be enough to clothe the world right now?”
Students who attended said the Hunger Banquet was a good opportunity to make students more aware of global issues.
“It is very important for students to reflect upon the real situation in the world,” said Ana Morales, a freshman.
Freshman David Lin said he believes that the audience discovered a great deal during the banquet.
“It increases awareness of how things actually are in the world,” he said.
“People are very tuned out. They focus on themselves. They will learn that a lot of companies waste a lot of good food. Not all of the food [that is thrown away] is bad.”Freshman John Guzman shared similar feelings.
“At one point or another we all experience hunger, but not true hunger,” he said.
“[Students] will learn not to waste as much food.”
Senior Ivan Aguirre said he is looking forward to learning more about the situation of hunger and poverty in the world.
“I hope to gain some new knowledge and up-to-date statistics,” he said.
Some of the students in the audience were surprised at the banquet’s turnout.
“It’s nice that there were speakers and videos,” said freshman Samantha Schiavi.
“I’m impressed by how many people showed up.”
Guzman said the event will make him think twice about being wasteful.
“I see how big of a throw-away society we are,” Guzman said.