Students taste poverty at hunger banquet

About 50 percent of the world’s population lives on less than $1,032 a year. Students at the Oxfam Hunger Banquet were given a taste of this and other socio-economic levels.

Students were divided into groups representing the world’s three major socio-economic groups and ate meals accordingly. They drew cards that told them which group they were a part of and told the story of a hypothetical person from that class.

In the low-income group, students ate a meal of rice, corn and beans and sat on the floor. This group represented roughly 50 percent of the world’s population, which has an income of less than $1,032 a year—about $2.83 per day.

Frank Hubert, director of service and outreach, said that the meal for the low-income group was supposed to be a bowl of rice on the floor and a bucket of water with a ladle, without utensils, cups, or plates. However, JBU dining services said that was a health code violation, so the standard was raised.

The middle-income group served themselves a beans, rice and cheese casserole and was allowed to sit at a table. Representing roughly 30 percent of the world’s population, people from this group earn between $1,032 and $6,000 a year.

Students representing the world’s high-income group enjoyed salad, pineapple chicken and yogurt parfaits, which were served to them by the low-income group. The high-income group represents 20 percent of the world’s population.

“To be a member of this very fortunate group, you need to earn a minimum income of just $6,000 a year,” said Roberto Pozuelo, a leader in Student Ministries Leadership Team.

When serving themselves, women from the middle and lower-income groups were asked to go after the men, representing gender inequality.

Many students expressed that they felt awkward about the class difference and that men went before women.

Emmy Scott, a leader in Student Ministries Leadership Team, said that the felt the representation of gender inequality was realistic. “We’re literally the lowest of the low,” she said.

There was one table that was set for the higher class with parfaits at each place, but the table was empty and the parfaits uneaten.

“The desserts at that table over there are not up for grabs. Actually those will get thrown away, and that is somewhat intentional. That is our reality,” said Hubert, referring to the food waste in the world’s high-income group.

“Hunger in this world is less about whether or not there are enough resources to go around, but it is helping people gain access to those resources,” said Hubert.