Oxfam’s Hunger BanquetApril 16, 2012
Some history on the Hunger Banquet...
You don’t have to be a cynic to remark that Thanksgiving has long celebrated affluence and gluttony in equal parts to grace, gratitude, and togetherness.
Well, the Thursday before Thanskgiving Day 1974, thousands of Americans made a small step towards reclaiming the holiday’s original claims to sincere gratitude and empathy: 250,000 people participated in Oxfam America’s Fast for a World Harvest. They fasted for the day or for a single meal to raise personal and global awareness of hunger, and they donated the money they would have spent on food to Oxfam’s efforts to alleviate disparity and injustice.
This was the beginning of Oxfam’s Hunger Banquet, which seeks to exemplify principles of compassion and awareness on global issues.
Guests draw tickets at random, assigning them each to a high, middle, or low income tier.
Each income level is given a fitting meal for their caste.
- 15% high get a ‘sumptuous’ meal, with a beverage.
- 35% get rice and beans.
- 50% get a half-cup of rice, served from a communal bowl.
The event is interactive, enabling participants to experience the extent and degree of inequality in the world. Guests are encouraged to get into their ‘roles’. For instance, a low-income individual should never leave their meal uneaten, no matter how unsatisfying or emotionally overwhelming the serving is.
(Remember what mama always said about starving children in China! Truth.)
Some events go further in creating a thought-provoking and politically-aware atmosphere by asking that females go to the back of the line and be served last.
At the Hunger Banquet, everyone should be emotionally involved, which helps to fuel a discussion session at the end.
Oxfam rightly promotes the role of education in fighting poverty. This extends to informing the privileged few equally as it does to impoverished communities in need of basic education through school systems.
The Hunger Banquet promotes a greater understanding of poverty, enabling those involved with the knowledge it takes to help.
Food for thought (pun intended):
1 in 7 people are hungry.
22,000 children die each day due to poverty.
About 72 million children of age in the developing world were not in primary school in 2005. 57% of them were girls.
Less than 1% of the world’s spendings on weapons was needed to put every child into school by the year 2000.
Climate change is now recognized as a current and future cause of world poverty,
In 2005, the wealthiest 20% of the world accounted for 80% of private consumption.
Stay tuned for Oxfam UT’s Green conception of the event!