Symbolic banquet tries to help global hunger

Oxfam Community Aid Abroad, in collaboration with St. John Fisher Newman Group, hosted a banquet in the Gold Rooms of the Oakland Center to raise hunger awareness on campus March 5.

St. John Fisher was helping to raise money to benefit Oxfam and $5 donations were accepted.

Lisa Brown, Pastoral Associate for St. John Fisher, got right to the point.

“We are here today because 1.2 billion people, about one-fifth of the world population, live in poverty,” Brown said. “Eight hundred million of the people suffer from chronic hunger.”

Brown said a person dies from hunger every 3.6 seconds, adding up to 24,000 people a day. She said the major causes of hunger are mainly political.

“It’s about power,” Brown said. “The roots of hunger lie in inequalities in access to education and resources,”    

Before the presentation, slips of paper were handed out assigning a role. These roles ranged from those who are well-off to the poor. The groups were classified by where they sat. The poor sat on the floor, the middle class on the mats, and the wealthy on the tables.

The groups acted out scenarios in which group members represented indviduals at different socio-economic levels. 

Some of the middle class moved up or down and were able to sit at different locations.

Food was also assigned based on class. The poor received only rice, the middle class received rice and beans, and the wealthy received sandwich wraps.

Mary Karasch, an OU Latin American history professor, discussed the hunger situation in Latin America and began by speaking about Haiti.

“Just Google Haiti and dirt cookies,” Karasch said. “They go through specific types of clay and give these to children to kill hunger pangs.”

“In the third world, dirt is sometimes used to provide essential minerals in specific kinds of clay,” Karasch said.

“Guatemala is high up on the malnutrition index, especially in the indigenous areas. Fifty percent of the indigenous children are severely malnourished,” Karasch said.

“People who are indigenous simply cannot enjoy the same quality of food in comparison to the upper classes,” she said.

Students that attended said the banquet was a learning experience.

“I had no idea how prevalent it was,” said junior Katie Gaiea of the global hunger crisis. “I knew it existed but not to the extent that was discussed.”

Sophomore Paola Yumpo also said she learned a lot.

“I’m Peruvian and was interested in coming here because it’s Latin America in general and my country struggles sometimes, especially in the poor areas,” she said. “I learned how I can help, one of them by going fair trade.”