The Bonner Center for Civic Engagement and the Student Food Access Coalition hosted a Hunger Banquet last night so students could explore and better understand global hunger.

The Hunger Banquet simulated income inequalities in relation to food. When attendees entered the banquet, they picked a notecard at random. This card featured a short biography and categorized people into income groups: low, middle or high.

Those who were low-income, about 10 people, sat on the floor and ate rice. Middle-income people, about five people, sat at a table and ate rice and beans. The five high-income people had pasta, salad and bread rolls. These proportions were meant to be representative of global statistics, said Adrienne Piazza, manager of education initiatives and leadership development at the CCE.

Throughout the banquet, people were called on to move up or down income levels. During the banquet, representatives from the Student Food Access Coalition spoke about hunger both globally and in Richmond.

“About 19 percent of people in Richmond are living in poverty,” Piazza said.

The script and biographies for the Hunger Banquet come from Oxfam International, an international confederation of organizations with the mission to combat poverty, Piazza said.

Anna Sangree, a member of the Student Food Access Coalition said the event was important because it raised awareness and discussion, and it made people think about hunger inequality. “It’s easy to go and get all of your D-hall food and not be grateful for it,” she said.

“I have heard the argument that something like a hunger banquet is just a lot of very privileged people pretending to be poor, which is a negative, but I think it’s very important to give people a bigger perspective — though you are not really living it you are getting an idea of how it might be to live in that situation,” Sangree said.

As the groups ate, representatives from the Student Food Access Coalition facilitated a discussion about global hunger.

Ashley James, a freshman who attended the event, said, “I learned a lot. It inspired me to be a part of this group or at least do something.”

The Student Food Access Coalition is managed by the CCE and consists of six people. “We gather students across campus who are either volunteering at a nonprofit partner related to food access or students who are simply interested in food access,” Piazza said.

The next event the Student Food Access Coalition will host is a food-packaging event in the spring.

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