More than 842 million people worldwide suffered from chronic hunger in December 2013. That is more than the populations of the United States, Canada and the European Union put together.
Alongside global justice advocacy organization Oxfam America, several Early College students and faculty are organizing a Hunger Banquet on April 16 to raise awareness and funding for domestic and international poverty and food insecurity.
“People of lower socioeconomic circumstances are forced to spend an inordinate amount of their food money just getting to the store or by paying ridiculous prices from a convenience store,” said AP Environmental Science teacher and Hunger Banquet faculty advisor Katheryn Cooper in an email interview. “This (economic inequality) is where food insecurity and hunger stem from in this country.”
The drive to combat food insecurity is nothing new to Guilford. Both the Guilford Farm and the Bonner Center work to reduce hunger in the Greensboro community by growing sustainable foods and encouraging equitable distribution policies.
“When you hear the personal stories, whether in Greensboro or in another country, you’re motivated to do more, think deeper and work to solve the problem,” said James Shields ’00, director of the Bonner Center for Community Service and Learning. “The Bonner Center and the Hunger Banquet have similar goals as they both seek to reveal the causes of food insecurity and then work for food security/justice worldwide.”
The Hunger Banquet organizing committee hopes to make the food crisis realistic by dividing the attendees into social classes. This model will highlight the disparity in access to food between rural farmers and the citizens of the developed world.
“Unlike a classroom presentation or panel, the Oxfam Hunger Banquet is experiential, with each participant being randomly assigned a role,” said Oxfam America Director of Community Engagement Nancy Delaney in an email interview.
“Student participants in the Hunger Banquet have told us time and again how life changing and powerful the experience has been for them. That experience of the Hunger Banquet is carried beyond the event and, for many, influences the way they view the world.”
The event’s ultimate goal is to have the attendees leave with the knowledge and passion needed to get involved in the fight against world hunger.
“I think we all have a little bit of ‘change the world’ sentiment in us, but we often choose not to act on that sentiment,” said Lahari Revuri, Early College senior and member of Hunger Banquet organizing committee. “There’s nothing wrong with only idealizing goals, but realizing goals is what actually changes the world.”
Guilford College students and faculty who attend the Hunger Banquet may find the presentation relevant to their classes. The event is designed to allow students to put skills learned in political science and environmental science into practice.
“Any class that discusses the wealth gap, the Amazon rainforests, and childhood obesity, access to education, marginalization or post colonialism could involve the issue of food insecurity because food is such a universal necessity,” said Revuri.
The Hunger Banquet is open to everyone looking to be a part of the movement against global injustice and poverty or anyone looking to learn more about the issues. If you’re interested, the Hunger Banquet will be hosted at Jamestown Presbyterian Church on April 16 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. You can email [email protected]
“What do you have to lose by coming?” asked Cooper. “Your ticket cost will go to help one of the most successful famine programs in the world, and you’ll be entertained and enlightened by our students.”