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SMC holds annual Hunger Banquet

Nikki Taylor | Thursday, November 15, 2007

More than 75 Saint Mary’s students traded in a meal at the dining hall Wednesday to learn about worldwide hunger as part of the Student Diversity Board’s third annual Hunger Banquet.

Upon entering the West Wing of the Noble Family Dining Hall, students who registered for the event were asked to draw a colored card out of a bag without looking. This card designated their “social status” for the night.

A select few students got to sit at a table and eat a full meal, representing the upper class. The middle class sat on chairs and ate beans and rice. The lower class, which comprised more than half the people in attendance, sat on the floor, eating a scoop of rice.

The cards also told a story about the life of a person in that situation. For example, an upper class-card might describe the life of a Hollywood plastic surgeon and a lower-class card might describe a girl in Africa who is HIV-positive or an unemployed teenage mother.

After the meal, Sarah Barnes, the co-chair of the event, gave a talk about the differences between poverty and hunger. Hunger and poverty are not the same, she said. Hunger is the complete absence of food and nourishment. Poverty is more of an issue in the U.S., she said, although there are 854 million people suffering from hunger worldwide.

The past two years, the Hunger Banquet proceeds went to an international organization called Oxfam, which gives people money not only for food but also for smaller farm animals, like chickens.

This year, the Diversity Board decided to support the Hope Rescue Mission, a local organization that provides food and shelter for people in the South Bend area. They do not ask for identification and all are welcome.

“We decided to keep it local this year to drive it home that there is poverty and hunger in South Bend,” Barnes said. ” … It is a bigger problem than students know about. They’re sheltered in the Notre Dame community.”

Like Barnes, event co-chair Adriana Rodriguez said she thought it was important to support a local charity this year.

“I’m from South Bend, and I have seen people in South Bend who have nothing,” she said. “I’ve seen it firsthand. I wanted people to realize that it goes on here and globally, to make people aware of the situation.”

Many students participated in the event to show their support of the Diversity Board and the Hope Rescue Mission.

“I was really happy with the turnout,” she said. “It’s always a little scary. The goal was 100 and I don’t think we were far off.”