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Banquet raises hunger awareness

Madeline Miles | Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Students, faculty and staff took on new identities Tuesday night for the seventh annual Hunger Banquet, sponsored by Saint Mary’s College Student Diversity Board (SDB).

“Millions of people around the world, as well as [those] within the South Bend community, struggle with the challenges of poverty and hunger every single day,” SDB president and senior Kelly Reidenbach said. “While at Saint Mary’s, it is easy to take for granted all of the pleasures and luxuries that we have the opportunity to indulge in. The Hunger Banquet is a way for students and faculty to step out of their comfort zones and into the reality of poverty and hunger.”

Identity slips were given upon entry to the Banquet, placing participants in either the lower, middle or upper class. The participant’s role determines what and how much food is placed on his or her plate. The Banquet simulated which economic class each participant was assigned to.

Senior Anabel Castaneda reflected on the importance of the Hunger Banquet at the College.

“At Saint Mary’s, we get placed in a secure little bubble,” Castaneda said. “At times, many forget that it’s a cruel world and it should just make students want to make a difference in the world.”

Co-chair junior London Lamar hoped that the Banquet raised awareness of poverty and hunger on campus.

“By making more individuals aware of the issues centered around hunger, injustice and poverty, there will be a greater chance to stop it,” she said. “The Banquet is truly a rewarding experience.”

In addition to roles given to participants, SDB invited clients from the Center for the Homeless to the dinner, as well as a refugee family now living in Michiana. Through conversation, the guests shared their stories of hunger and despair with the Saint Mary’s community.

Attendees of the Hunger Banquet were able to experience poverty for a night, which is exactly what SDB hoped for to raise awareness on campus. Castaneda said she was glad to be involved in the event.

“It was a great opportunity to hear what it is like to actually be in poverty,” she said.