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Downtown Oxfam Hunger Banquet promotes hunger awareness

hunger banquet
Students in the middle economic status group eat a family-style dinner during the Oxfam Hunger Banquet at the A.E. England Building in Downtown Phoenix on Thursday, Nov. 19, 2015.

The main lecture hall of the A.E. England building Downtown was filled with students eating and conversing about socioeconomic inequality on Thursday, Nov. 19. 

The students were there for an Oxfam Hunger Banquet held by Members of the downtown Committee of Campus Inclusion, Changemaker Central and the Residence Hall Association. Seventy-four students attended and the event was approximately one hour long. 

Rachel Kemmerle, a main event organizer and co-chair of the downtown Committee of Campus Inclusion, said the purpose was to promote awareness for hunger issues locally and globally.

"We want to educate students about global hunger, food insecurity and other international issues," Kemmerle said. "We also want to address it as an issue in Phoenix as well as a global issue."

The event began with organizers giving attendees separate colored cards that indicated a specific hypothetical socioeconomic class. The different classes were separated into low, middle and high-class groupings on opposite sides of the room.

The food type, portion size and order of service were correlated to the class status an attendee received.

During the banquet, organizers created hypothetical situations in which each class was affected differently.

Kemmerle said each campus holds similar events at least once a year. She also said this particular banquet is part of International Education Week.

Oxfam is an international organization that promotes hunger awareness and tries to find solutions to poverty worldwide. Kemmerle said organizers requested materials and guidelines for the banquet from Oxfam.

Journalism freshman Joy Ivy is an employee of Changemaker Central. She said she helps coordinate similar events regularly, bit this is the first Oxfam Hunger Banquet she attended.

"I think it's really cool that we're putting wage inequality into terms that everyone can understand because a lot of people hear about things like that but they don’t really get the full concept of it. This is a good interactive experience to really drive the point home I think," Ivy said.

Organizers and key speakers interspersed lectures throughout the evening about hunger and inequality in Phoenix and across the world.

Sarah Stadler-Ammon, a pastor at Grace Lutheran Church and an adviser for the Council of Religious Advisors, said homelessness and hunger in Phoenix are prevalent.

"This kind of event helps us kind of understand in a really tangible way what systems keep people from health, food and wellness overall," Stadler-Ammon said. "Because I think that there's this idea that people are poor or hungry because of individual choices they made when in fact there is a system that helps create hunger and poverty. The system is much larger than any other individual."

Related Links:

Tempe USG supports St. Mary's Food Bank in Fight Against Hunger competition

ASU4food strives to eradicate hunger

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