Oxfam Hunger Banquet raises money, hope

Written by Muleskinner Staff

By JEFFERY CONTAC

(WARRENSBURG, Mo., digitalBURG) – More than $9,250 was raised to fight world hunger during the Oxfam Hunger Banquet at UCM April 11 in the Union.

A total of $9,000 was raised from donated Sodexo swipes, $250 was donated in cash and 150 pounds of food was also donated to the cause. More than 100 students and Warrensburg residents attended the event that was organized by Wendy Geiger’s Social Influence class.

The Oxfam Foundation is a group that fights poverty and hunger at their root causes with long-term development programs in vulnerable areas, as well as being a world leader in providing emergency relief. The organization also campaigns to end unfair trade rules, promote human rights and combat climate change. Originally formed as the Oxford Committee for Famine Relief in 1942, they campaigned to send food through an Allied naval blockade to people in need in enemy-occupied Greece. In 1995, the group officially became Oxford International and has 17 member organizations ranging from Canada to Australia.

One of the events that Oxfam America promotes is the Hunger Banquet in which 100 people sit down to a meal together and talk about the issues of worldwide hunger. The catch is that, the people are divided into three economic classes and served accordingly. Fifteen percent of the world eats more calories daily than they need to survive, 35 percent eats just enough, and roughly half the world eats inconsistently and lacks abundant clean water. As each person walks in the room, they receive a card with an identity for the evening.

One idenity was that of a 15-year-old boy from Guatemala named Romeo who moved to the United States to work the fields in Florida. Those who were in this economic class received beans and rice and a glass of water. Those who were in the highest economic class were served on fancy China with crystal glasses and fine linens.

After the experience of being separated into classes, many people who attended the banquet said they left with a new understanding of world hunger.

“I think if you give people an outlet for how they can help, and direct them in that way then they are willing to,” said John Peterson, a graduate student in Geiger’s class. “Until then it’s out of sight out of mind.”

Hunger kills more people a year than alcohol, AIDS and Malaria combined, according to information given at the banquet.

“Hunger claims the lives of over 16,000 children a day internationally,” Geiger said. “The population of Warrensburg is only 16,304.”

Those in attendance raised $6,000 for the local food pantry, as well as donated food items, and $3,000 for the Oxfam Foundation.

“A lot of students left that night humbled and empowered simultaneously, like a lot of them didn’t know how good we really have it,” Hunt said.

For more info about the Oxfam Hunger Banquet, contact [email protected]