Hunger Banquet educates students in a unique way

Marshall University’s Academic Affairs, along with an upper level sociology class, presented a Hunger Banquet Wednesday to 150 students.
The event educated the attendees on world hunger by assigning them to a social class, which determined what lunch they were served.
Qdoba Mexican Grill donated the food for the lower and middle classes, and Sodexo was in charge of the upper class.
Students enjoyed either a full course meal or a small amount of rice on a tortilla depending on what class he or she randomly selected.
Service Learning Program Director and Sociology Professor Kristi Fondren supervised students who planned the event.
“We wanted to do something impactful,” Fondren said. “They [the students] now have a greater understanding of global poverty. Hopefully they left wanting to end world hunger.”
Junior LaChel House was appointed as the emcee for the event.
House presented poverty facts and addressed various members of the audience to create a reaction.
House talked of social mobility and had students switch classes after being seated.
Freshman Evan Pauley started out in the lower class after drawing his ticket.
Pauley’s ticket had a symbol on it that set him apart from the others giving him the opportunity to be “adopted” from a member of the upper class.
“It was great,” Pauley said. “I didn’t know what the symbol on the ticket meant. I was just really happy to get up here.”
Sophomore Sydney Swann-Burnett was also one who experienced mobility, but she moved to the lower class after a fictional job loss.
“It was sad,” Swann-Burnett said. “My character was a beekeeper who lost a job and had to go hungry as a result. Moving from the middle to lower class sucked, but it’s a reality for some people.”
Freshman Amanda Gibson was a member of the middle class and she said the event made an impact.
“It’s hard to picture poverty outside of America,” Gibson said. “We see the upper class and that is an American reality for most of our middle class. On a global level, it’s a whole different story though. That’s what this event really pointed out to me.”
Sociology student Katie Simon asked the participants questions once they were done eating, regarding how they felt about the event.
“In this kind of environment we came in knowing we were supposed to discuss the problem of hunger,” Swann-Burnett said. “Still, most chose not to talk about it [with Simon.] People chose not to acknowledge that people are going hungry. If we don’t acknowledge that we have a problem there won’t be anything done about it.”
Bri Shelton can be contacted at [email protected]