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Hunger banquet brings issues home

Jillian Stinchcomb | Monday, November 23, 2009

To help students conceptualize the hardships that come with being born in one of the world’s poorest countries, ND-8, GreeND and Students for Environmental Action (SEA) will be hosting the third annual Hunger Banquet in the Coleman-Morse Center lounge at 6:30 p.m.

Senior Christina Hannon, who is member of ND-8, said the banquet is “an experience that gets people to interact with world hunger.”

“With ND-8 we’re committed to these issues of international poverty, hunger, sustainability and global partnership. The banquet is a great vent to get people to think about these issues of hunger,” she said.

Hannon said students, as they arrive, are given a chance to spin a wheel, which will assign them to a group which represents an income level of the world population.

The spin of a wheel will determine what and how the students will be eating — 50 percent will be given a meal of rice while sitting on the ground, 35 percent will be given a meal of rice and beans while sitting on chairs and 15 percent will be given a full meal of meat and vegetables while sitting at tables with silverware.

“There are parallels between the experience at this event and what goes on in the world,” Hannon said. “The biggest difference is that in the past, students from the upper 15 percent have shared their food with the lower income level groups, but that simply isn’t possible on the global scale.”

Hannon said the emphasis is on the format, with each student assigned to their meal by chance. The three tiers represent the lower, middle and upper levels of income.

To deepen the personal aspect of the banquet, Hannon said, each student will be given an “identity card” appropriate to their income level group. Each identity card has the name, age, family, living situation, income level and job of the fictionalized person.

“We want it to be fun, interesting and interactive,” she said. “Students bring diverse experiences with service and the hunger banquet is a great opportunity to learn from one another. It’s not just a workshop; it’s personal.

GreeND and SEA are co-hosting the event this year because there is an emphasis on climate change and sustainability, Hannon said.

“Global warming and a lack of sustainability are interfering and perpetuating global hunger,” she said. “Global hunger, climate change and sustainability are interrelated issues.”

Students can pre-register for the banquet online in order to help ND-8 have a more accurate assessment of who is coming to the event, but it is not necessary toregister.
“Students who just show up to the event are also welcome,” Hannon said.

To enhance the experience of the banquet, ND-8 suggests fasting for up to 24 hours before the event. The group also requests that students use one or two Grab-N-Go meals and bring them to the banquet to donate to a local food pantry.

“At Notre Dame we truly do have all these opportunities at our fingertips, and it’s important to just become aware,” Hannon said.