FHSU's hunger banquet will provide food for thought

Hungering for the same success obtained from 2001's Oxfam America Hunger Banquet, Fort Hays State University has announced that people will once again have the opportunity to experience the privation of a financially-restricted meal Tuesday, Feb. 25.

"The Hunger Banquet is a dramatic representation of the inequitable distribution of food in our world," said Brandy Carpenter, member of FHSU's ProjectSERV AmeriCorps and Clay Center sophomore.

"More than 800 million people in this world go hungry, and 31 million of these people live here in the U.S.," she said. "More than 150 million children in third world countries suffer from malnutrition."

"Hunger is just a symptom of poverty," Carpenter said. "The purpose of the Hunger Banquet is to make people aware of this and how they can help save lives if not make a difference in theirs or someone else's."

The Oxfam America Hunger Banquet is a dramatic representation of the inequitable distribution of the abundant food supply in the world.

Participants will draw a profile to determine what "income group" they will be placed in.

The event venue is divided into three separate areas representing the high, middle and low-income families. Meals will be based upon what a person in that income level could afford. Fifteen percent of participants will have the opportunity to enjoy a gourmet meal in the high-income area, 30 percent will eat a simple meal such as beans and rice and 55 percent will sit on the floor to enjoy rice and water.

"By having most of the people that attend the banquet be low-income and just a few, like seven people, be high-income and about 70 or so middle-income, people can see the difference of the way most people in our world eat," Carpenter said.

"The real stats are that three percent of the population is wealthy," Carpenter said. "It depends on the number of people that are going to attend that make these stats correct. I hope more low-income people show. I would only like seven people to be wealthy, about 70-76 middle and 130-160 low-income. This would actually represent what I want people to see."

Popularized by the worldwide development organization Oxfam America, Hunger Banquets have been staged by thousands of schools, universities, churches, synagogues, clubs and other organizations across the country to illustrate the realities of world hunger and to create a lasting solution to the problem.

"Oxfam America has helped many universities and communities be aware of social issues; and hunger is one of them," Carpenter said. "They provide special training for students and advisors to have successful campaigns and make known to their community the serious issues that face our world."

"By presenting the Hunger Banquet at FHSU, students at FHSU can become better citizens since it can help to show them how we as a student body can really help make a difference, not just in our community, but anywhere," Carpenter said.

"I don't think that a majority of the people really know what's going on behind the scenes of the food distribution in the world. They see the commercials and they hear it on the news, but if it doesn't really relate to them, most people don't even pay attention to what's going on."

Students, faculty members and community members are invited to attend the Oxfam America Hunger Banquet for its second time at FHSU.

"By throwing a Hunger Banquet and inviting people from the community, most of the time they really get to see what's going on and know how they can help," Carpenter said. "After the banquet, it's all up to them to decide what they are going to do to help out."

Tickets are free and available Friday, Feb. 21 on a first-come, first-served basis at the Student Service Center in the Memorial Union.

Participants are asked to bring a canned or nonperishable food item, toiletry, laundry detergent or anything else that can help local families. A spoon is required too in order to keep the garbage production down.

Additional information can be obtained by contacting Brandy Carpenter by phone at (785) 628-5977.

"This is a serious issue and one that hits me deeply," Carpenter said. "It aches my heart to know that there are starving people, especially children, in our world and to know that there is plenty of food in our world to feed everyone, and everyone is not being fed. This really gets to me. I want people to realize how serious of an issue this is and how we can really help save lives."

"I hope that the Hunger Banquet brings awareness to our community the real issue of hunger and poverty in our world," she said.

"I want the community to realize that we, the people, as a whole can help save many lives by being less wasteful and more conservative," Carpenter said.

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