On Monday, Slippery Rock hosted its annual hunger banquet which is based on the Oxfam Hunger Banquet. As I have never attended a hunger banquet I wasn’t sure what to expect, I only knew bits and pieces from professors and friends which was that I may not eat much. As a college student, I was definitely not looking forward to potentially paying to eat and leaving hungry.
As I arrived at the door I was greeted by a woman with an envelope with a letter “B” on it, she showed me around and I instantly noticed four distinct features about this event. First I noticed the three different table styles. One table was a round table decorated with fancy plates and silverware, with water and lemonade being provided in the middle. The next table was a standard rectangle table, with paper plates and plastic silverware. The last “table” was a mat on the floor with a bowl and a spoon. The next thing I noticed was a large buffet. I was directed towards the middle table with plastic eating utensils and paper plates and was told that I was middle class. I opened my envelope to find 25 red tickets, along with the rest of the people at my table we put our heads together to figure out we would be using these tickets to purchase food. We were all very intrigued to find out how many tickets high class had and later found it they had 75. We also overheard lower class, which was the table on the floor has only 6 tickets. To put things into perspective lettuce was 3 tickets, meat for a burrito was 7, and water was 2. The high-class table didn’t need to purchase water or lemonade because it was provided at the table. In order for the lower class to get a drink of water needed to use a third of their tickets.
All of us at the middle table knew how lucky we were to have the number of tickets we had. I am normally a tremendously big eater so I had a very lackluster meal of lettuce with dressing, a burrito with rice, beef, tomatoes, and sour cream, and a cup of water and was left with two tickets. As we were getting our food we were told that we could transfer from class to class to visit and give tickets at the price of 6 tickets per class, some of the people at the upper-class table took a visit to the lower class table and shared some tickets. Meanwhile, our table was figuring out how to smuggle our leftover tickets because we didn’t have enough to transfer tables. When it was all finished we were told we can all eat as much as we’d like and everyone was happy.
This hunger simulation did an excellent job at raising awareness of the issues of hunger and homelessness. I strongly encourage people to attend next year. After we ate we had a discussion on why the event was important. We learned mind-blowing facts such as the average age of a homeless person in America is nine. We also learned how hunger and homelessness isn’t a problem that is far away with issues in nearly every county in America, including our very own butler county. After attending this event I have looked at next few following meals differently. I recognized that not everyone is so lucky, and felt fortunate to not have ever been in a position to be worried about my next meal.
After the event, many have the urge to help with this issue. We found out our money used to purchase our tickets will be used to make lunch bags for children in need to take home on the weekend. We also learned about volunteer opportunities in nearby Butler and Pittsburgh. For more information contact Alice Del Vecchio and the Student Nonprofit Alliance at firstname.lastname@example.org.