Sarah McQueen firstname.lastname@example.org
How would you feel if you attended a banquet where many were served unlimited food, but you were told there was nothing left for you? Would you be shocked? Angry? Upset?
This is exactly what happened to many who attended the Hunger Banquet on April 13. This visual was used to drive home the point that millions of people go hungry every day while others have access to seemingly unlimited food.
The Hunger Banquet was the final event in a week-long program called Hunger Week. Hunger Week was designed to raise awareness and funds for world hunger. The week was sponsored by Intervarsity, International Justice Mission and the Wesleyan Society.
“Funds go to World Vision,” said Jennifer Smith, a student at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and one of the organizers of Hunger Week. “Their mission is to help alleviate world hunger. They work on not just feeding people for a day but getting people fresh water or animals.”
As part of Hunger Week, students volunteered at the Place of Peace, a local Lutheran church, and the Salvation Army, helping to serve food to the homeless. They organized a food drive and collected many donations for The Cupboard. They also tabled at the Dreyfus University Center hoping to raise awareness among students and get them thinking about the issue.
“We were pretty much just trying to have conversation with people and ask what they are hungry for as well,” Smith said. “Like—is it food or is it fame or success? Or is it spirituality, or is it something else?”
In addition, about 40 students participated in a 30-hour famine. At 9:00 a.m. April 12, all 40 participants stopped eating and went hungry for the next 30 hours.
“The 30 hours had two purposes,” Smith said. “The first purpose was to understand how it feels to be hungry for a day. The second purpose is to understand what you are hungry for. Is food satisfying or is something else? Is it your hunger for God? Is it your hunger in yourself?”
Those who participated in the famine spent the night at the Place of Peace and all broke their fast together the next day. Smith said the hardest part of the famine was waking up Saturday morning and realizing that she could not eat. The point was made clear to all. There are many people who wake up every morning and don’t know if they will have a meal that day.
“I think I learned a number of things,” Smith said. “I thought it was really wonderful how everything just seemed to be willingly donated. Even though we are a wealthy nation, we still have a giving heart. We are just working harder at learning how to give.”
The Hunger Banquet was held later that night and was attended by over 70 people. Ushers randomly sat people in either the high class, middle class or poverty sections. People were served according to their sections. Smith pointed out that people sitting at the poverty tables could have eaten if anyone with extra food had thought to share what was given to them. No one did.
“We can’t expect someone else to deal with the problem,” Smith said. “We have to realize that there is a problem and do something about it. That is definitely on an individual basis. You can’t expect other people to do it if you’re not doing it yourself.”
Through a silent auction, donations and the cover charge for the banquet, Hunger Week was able to raise over $650 to donate to World Vision. This was the first year the event has been held, and Smith said she intends to make this happen annually.