On Feb. 13, the Office of Service, Spirituality and Social Responsibility (SSSR) held the OxFam Hunger Banquet, an event intending to raise awareness on hunger and suggesting what Wheaton students can do to help combat it.
As students entered the event, they were placed via lottery into either a low, middle or upper income slot and were asked to sit at their designated side of the room. To show the difference between classes, low income participants sat on the floor while middle and upper class participants had the luxury of sitting at tables.
Each participant was given a profile. I was assigned the role of Deng, a Vietnamese farmer who owed money to local moneylenders and thus was in the low-income section. After everyone was seated, certain lucky members from the low-income slot were allowed to move up to the middle-income section while certain unlucky middle-income participates experienced a “drought” on their farms and had to move to the low-income section, the purpose being to demonstrate just how unstable poverty can be.
Afterwards, the entire group heard a presentation on hunger and poverty’s remaining prevalence. Dinner was served during the presentation, with high-income members receiving meals with salad, middle-income earners receiving pizza, and low-income participants — still seated on the floor — enjoying rice and beans.
All the materials were provided by OxFam America, an organization dedicated to eradicating poverty, and SSSR urged those passionate about ending hunger to visit OxFamAmerica.org for more information on how to make a difference in the fight against hunger and poverty.
Maya Ambroise ’13 ran this year’s OxFam event. “I know people want to help,” she said. “There are so many opportunities locally to help, but people get overwhelmed. But . . . as college students, we have a lot of power . . .,” she added.
Thanks to SSSR there are many local opportunities for Wheaton students to get involved. Students can go to the SSSR office in the Chapel Basement, open weekdays from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., or contact the office at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more information. The office holds frequent events to combat local hunger, and works at the Attleboro Soup Kitchen once every month. Additionally, SSSR will be holding a Local Homelessness Awareness Panel in the Chapel Basement this Thursday at 7:30 p.m.
The group is in search of more volunteers to help, and anyone can contact the office to sign up and help with any of this semester’s upcoming events.