The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

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The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Hunger Banquet feeds minds

Kathleen McDowell and Matt Haley begin to eat their meal at the Food for Thought banquet Wednesday evening.
Brennen Cage
Kathleen McDowell and Matt Haley begin to eat their meal at the Food for Thought banquet Wednesday evening.

Kathleen McDowell and Matt Haley begin to eat their meal at the Food for Thought banquet Wednesday evening. (Brennen Cage)

Students Promoting Awareness, Responsibility, and Citizenship (SPARC) along with the SMU Service House and the Diversity Action Team, held the Food for Thought hunger banquet at the SMU Service House Wednesday evening.

The banquet started at 5:22 p.m. to represent the 22 people who die from hunger every minute.

The purpose of the banquet was to educate students about the poverty level in Dallas. As students were split into three different groups representing three income levels, the banquet represented an accurate division of the income levels in the DFW area.

Hunger Banquet coordinator senior Michelle Wigianto expressed the importance of the program’s purpose. She welcomed the students and said that they would have a vivid demonstration of what inequality really looks like.

“This banquet is a way to illustrate the disparities in the world on a minor scale and encourage students to volunteer in the community,” Wigianto said. “I urge all students in attendance to inform others about the poverty in Dallas.”

As students entered the Service House, they were given a green, yellow or red card. The few students given green cards represented the high-income population. They were escorted to a table with glass dishes and comfortable chairs. The students with yellow cards represented the middle-income population; they sat in chairs lining the room. The majority of students received red cards, representing the low-income population. They were told to take their seats on the floor.

As the banquet began, the students were told what they would be given to eat. The high-income students were served by waiters. They were offered a drink, dinner salad, lasagna, roll and cheesecake for dessert. The middle class was invited to a buffet consisting of macaroni and cheese and water, while the lower class was invited to have one bread roll and discolored water.

Junior Ben Brown, who represented a member of the low-income class, said, “I feel like I am helpless. There is nothing I can do except sit here and watch the rich eat. I’m sitting here wondering why someone doesn’t just give me just a little piece of their lasagna.”

High income designated junior Caroline Bell sat at the table eating her hot meal.

“I feel guilty,” she said, “I am undeserving. Why should I be eating this lavish meal while others are sitting on the floor with nothing but a roll?”

As all income levels consumed their meals, a sobering presentation was given with statistics about poverty in Dallas. Ten percent of the nation’s poor live in Texas, 25 percent of people in the DFW metroplex are living at or below the poverty line and 1.2 million people in Dallas area are poverty stricken – and that number is increasing daily.

In response to those statistics, freshman Natalie Kashefi said, “This program was such a great opportunity for me to place myself in someone else’s shoes. It makes me appreciate what I take for granted.”

Representatives from Hunger Busters and the National Texas Food Bank attended and spoke on behalf of their organizations. Hunger Buster representative Brandon Barganski told of the depressing reality of serving the poor three days a week in Dallas. Barganski applauded the efforts of the Hunger Banquet and urged SMU students to get involved.

“I cannot express how depressing it is seeing hundreds of people waiting for food every week. As much as I love feeding the homeless, it kills me when I see so many kids there for food, and to think that what I’m serving them might be their only meal of the day.”

At the conclusion of the banquet a reflection activity was run by senior David Bass.

“I think this banquet showed people what needs to happen to assist the homeless. During reflection it was interesting to see the different perceptions from people who represented the upper class versus people representing the lower class,” Bass said.

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