On April 25, the Peace and World Concerns Committee held a hunger banquet to raise money for Oxfam International, which seeks to correct inequality and ameliorate poverty across the globe.
The purpose of the event, held at Southland Books in Maryville, was to help people understand the inequalities of the global food system, which lead to abject poverty across much of the world.
Both students of Maryville College and members of the community were in attendance.
The attendees had been enticed to come by the promise that there was a chance to eat a steak dinner, which was one of three kinds of food that the PWCC had prepared.
The one steak dinner represented the fact that only a small percentage of the world’s population is able to live and eat comfortably.
Peace and World Concerns Committee president Harper Ganick and vice president Chase Newman addressed the audience and told them that one half of the world’s people are in poverty, lacking the money to buy enough food to feed themselves.
Furthermore, the jobs that some of this percentage do have are physically demanding.
Oxfam also recognized that this is a group with almost no hope of education or of bettering itself.
Ganick and Newman continued by saying that another 45 percent of the global population is on the edge of poverty, making less than $15,000 a year.
People in this population may have enough basic necessities, but any stroke of misfortune could ruin their chances of survival.
Education might be available at this level, and it is vital for the children of this group to attend school.
The final 15 percent of the population is comprised of those who make more than $15,000 a year, and they are considered the richest on earth.
Necessities are available to them, as are opportunities, wants and education.
The guests then chose papers out of a box to determine which class they were going to represent that night. The guests assigned to the poorest population would have to eat only a single plate of rice, while the middle class were to eat sandwiches and the one lucky guest assigned to the rich class, a steak dinner.
“This isn’t exactly what happens in the world—some of you wouldn’t even get to eat today—but this does help show how unequal the system is,” Ganick said.
Some of the participants took it into their own hands to address these imaginary inequalities, with those in the “middle class” sharing bread with those who had been assigned rice.
Guests both from the community and from Maryville College felt that they had taken something from the presentation o the hunger banquet.
Donations were offered before and after the hunger banquet to benefit Oxfam International.