Student perspective on Hunger Banquet

[Columns, letters or cartoons published are the work of the attributed author and do not necessarily represent the official views or opinions of “The Highland Echo.”]

Like my classmates in Dr. Colter’s and Dr. Shiba’s food-themed freshman seminar sections, I attended the Hunger Banquet with a rumbling stomach. We expected to find the Proffitt Dining Hall filled with food for us to eat, as it was time for lunch. What we did not know is that the Hunger Banquet was not meant for the normal consumption of food, but to experience the disparities in food availability in reference to socioeconomic status around the world.

As we entered the dining hall, we were given a slip of paper with the name and information of an individual that we were to embody that afternoon. From there, we were separated based on social class into three different zones of the hall. As the Hunger Banquet began, the upper class was served a variety of delicious foods and drinks at a set table.

Next the middle class, who resided in chairs, was served rice, beans and water. Finally, the lower class was seated on the ground and was only given the remains of the rice that the upper class did not eat. While the upper class enjoyed the food they were given, the middle and lower class stared with watering mouths at the overflowing plates of the upper class. As the banquet continued we learned the work ethic and struggles that each class endured to support themselves and their families.

Although some students were aware of this issue, most were in shock. The quality of life in the United States is nowhere near as poor as the countries that we were learning about; however, there are still a significant number of hungry people in the Unites States, as well. From this event, I left with a newfound appreciation of the quantity and quality food that I am able to eat every day.

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