Event highlights impact of poverty
The Student Government Association hosted the third annual hunger banquet on Oct. 10, recently renamed Clash of the Classes. This event coincides with the Reach 13,000 food drive.
The event was organized so that it would be representational of the reality of income distribution in the world today.
“The hunger banquet is an event started in 2010 to teach students about hunger and poverty in the world,” said Simone Lewis, SGA Senator for the College of Professional Studies.
“It’s an issue that I’m passionate about. My dad taught us, ‘Don’t take things for granted, because you never know what will happen to you,’” she said.
Students who either donated four canned goods or paid a $2 entry fee were asked to select a blank envelope with a gold seal from the table that was set up outside Ledbetter Hall. They opened the envelope and found their income level typed on a card. Typed below the class was a short description of an individual they represented. Each student was seated according to his or her income level, which was decided from the enveloped that the individual randomly chose.
Christi Kim, SGA secretary and sophomore biology major, said that the banquet was effective in making people think of the problems the world faces today “not just locally but nationally and internationally. We can’t quite experience what these people in poverty are going through.
“But because it is interactive, it allows us to get a general idea of what it feels like to not have an adequate meal each day,” Kim said.
The “upper-income” class, which comprised very few guests, was seated in a well-lit area of the room at grand tables, decorated with tablecloths, silverware and floral centerpieces. They feasted on garden-fresh salad, lasagna, chocolate brownies and lemonade. This class was invited to return to the buffet for seconds.
The slightly larger “middle-income” class was herded to the dimly-lit half of the room at plain tables with no tablecloth or flora. This class received soup and water.
The “lower-income” class, roughly half of those in attendance, was left to scavenge for seating on the floor around leg-less tabletops in the corner of the room, littered with torn newspaper pieces. They were rationed a Styrofoam cup of water and a small bowl of white rice. Having been furnished no utensils, this class was forced to eat the rice with their fingers.
“They’re eating good, and I’m over here slurping chicken broth!” was the reaction of Haven Lockeby, a sophomore psychology major.
While the three classes dined on their respective meals, Senators Simone Lewis, Jeremy Jenkins, sophomore broadcast journalism and business major, and Adele Hernandez, freshman Member-at Large, informed the audience of world hunger facts. The guests discovered “upper class” represented 15 percent of the world’s population considered “upper-income”, the “middle class” represented 35 percent of the planet who are middle-class, and the overwhelming “lower class” represented 50 percent of the world who are living in poverty.
After the guests were dismissed, Lockeby said, “I didn’t realize that half of the world lives in poverty. It was an eye-opening experience”.
“This banquet made us realize all that we [Americans] have that other countries do not,” said Kelsay Williams, a sophomore speech communications major. “We put so much toward buying things that we don’t need. It doesn’t make sense.”