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Saint Mary’s students participate in hunger banquet meant to illustrate America’s socioeconomic divide

| Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Students gathered in the Haggar Parlor on Tuesday evening to participate in the Oxfam Hunger Banquet, an event Saint Mary’s hosted to raise awareness for world hunger.

The annual event focuses on the realities of hunger in America and occurs at different institutions across America throughout the month of November.

Julianna McKenna | The Observer

Students who participated in the Oxfam Hunger Banquet sat on the floor of Haggar Parlor, where the event was held Tuesday evening. Hunger banquets are held at institutions across America throughout the month of November to demonstrate the realities of hunger.

“It’s an experience to humble yourself and be grateful for what you have, but also to acknowledge that hunger is much more common than you might think,” senior and Student Diversity Board president Jazmin Herrera said. “It might be someone sitting next to you in class or someone that you know. The main purpose of the event is to raise awareness.” 

The event illustrate the impact of the socioeconomic divide in America as students were each assigned a different economic group and meal.

“The 41 students who participated were randomly entered into a drawing and were placed in the lower class, middle class or higher class,” Herrera said. “The majority of people end up in the lower class because that is the real global ratio. Each group experienced the different classes through the meals that they were fed.”

Students felt the occasion was an important opportunity to understand the challenges faced by many people across America. 

“I decided to attend because I had never heard of an opportunity like this,” freshman Angela Martinez-Camacho said. “It was a chance to see what it’s like for other people.”

Martinez-Camacho noted the dread she felt sitting at a nice table while some of her peers had to sit on the floor. 

“I feel kind of bad because I already know that I will not finish my meal,” Martinez-Camacho said during the event. “I don’t like seeing people on the floor. Some of my friends are over there. If I could give them some of this I would.”

For freshman Alok Agwick, sitting on the floor highlighted the separation between the different economic groups in America. 

“Seeing all the classes juxtaposed against each other really shows the struggle that people have in their lifetime,” Agwick said. “I definitely felt the separation because everyone else was sitting in chairs with different food options. We had to sit on the floor and had one thing to eat.” 

The event also raised awareness for the Mother Pauline Food Pantry, a new resource on campus that provides food and toiletries to students. Junior Kylee Abwavo said the pantry is a great resource for the College.

“The Mother Pauline Pantry has helped me save money for college without having to worry about if I’m going to have enough food for a decent meal,” Abwavo said. “I hope that students will benefit from the pantry and try it out because it is a blessing when so many college students across the United States go to bed hungry.” 

Sophomore Karime Sanchez said she hopes the banquet will create a sense of awareness and help put into perspective the different backgrounds from which people come. 

“The hunger banquet teaches a lot of great things and creates a sense of awareness,” Sanchez said. “It really puts into perspective the different backgrounds that people come from and the different challenges people face. It really creates a desire to make a change and provide food for everyone.”

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