The Oxfam Hunger Banquet

Melinda Rydberg

Many St. Scholastica students attended the Oxfam Hunger Banquet, which gave them a new perspective on poverty and hunger around the world. The Hunger Banquet is held once every semester and is an interactive activity that the guests participate in. The banquet was put on by Oxfam and Amnesty International and took place on Monday, Nov. 20 at 6:00 p.m. in the Intercultural Center.

When guests first walk in, each person randomly drew a ticket which assigned them to either a low-income, middle-income, or high-income position. They sat in the designated area for each level. Guests are then treated differently based upon what their income is. High-income people got to sit at a luxurious table and were served a variety of delicious foods and sparkling juice. Middle-income people sat in chairs with no tables, and they were served water and a simple meal of rice, beans, and vegetables. Low-income people had to sit on the floor and get their own food and drink which consisted of dirty [food-colored] water and rice. They also had to eat with their hands.

This difference in treatment at the banquet was supposed to give the guests a more personal understanding of both poverty and hunger. The guests were able to experience the differences in treatment within a small environment, which hopefully allowed them to see and understand what it is really like in the real world.

During this experience, Oxfam also had a presentation which talked a lot about the different income levels and what living with each income is actually like. Outside of the United States, $8,486 is actually considered to be a high income level, which was a little shocking to hear. The presentation was eye opening, as it also mentioned a lot of facts about the hunger and poverty rates throughout the world.

Finally, there was a special guest speaker who had an amazing story to share about hunger and poverty. Tonya Whitfield went on a trip to the small island of Dominica for vacation, but what she left with was something much more important. She noticed that one village did not have boats to use for fishing, which was making protein very hard to find. Whitfield was determined to get boats for these people, and she spent five years of her life working to get those boats and helping the people in the village. Whitfield’s story is very inspiring because it proves that it only takes one person to make a huge difference in the world. If one person can help an entire village, imagine what could be done in the world if everyone helped out?