Hunger Banquet promotes poverty awareness

(Photo by: Brandy A. Cimmino)
Attendees of the Hunger Banquet eat on the floor, at tables and on the stage, according to what class they were sorted into: low, middle or upper.

The Community Involvement Center hosted the second annual Hunger Banquet on Thursday evening in hopes of teaching people about poverty.

“I think people are less aware of hunger and poverty in the U.S. because it is such a rich country, but even though it is such a rich country, there are people that are living on basically nothing,” said Annie Thompson, the community partner liaison and one of the organizers of the event. “It’s not always that they are starving, but that they’re malnourished. They are not receiving the nutrition that they need.”

At the event, each person was sorted into a different class: low, middle or upper. The lower-class group sat on the floor, ate soup and bread, and had to serve themselves. The middle and upper classes were both served by other people. The middle class was at tables eating pizza, and the upper-class group was on a stage eating a plate of chicken and broccoli. The income levels reflected the income ratios of the people in Ogden City.

“We eat a lot, I eat a lot, and I don’t realize how much it is I eat,” said Miles Dittmore, a sociology major who sat on the floor.

Representatives from three organizations gave talks at the event: Kenya Keys, the Salvation Army and Northern Utah Catholic Community Services. Each group talked about a different form of hunger — world hunger, hunger in the United States and hunger in Utah.

“These things are real,” said Emmanuel Mwengi, who works with Kenya Keys and talked about world hunger, “someone, somewhere needs your help.”

Mwengi said people could help by becoming more aware of the hunger problems in the world.

Lt. Peter Pemberton, who works with the Salvation Army, talked about the hunger problem in the United States. He said one of the problems is that people in poverty in the US are taking in calories, but not the nutrients they need.

“When I hear about hunger problems in the world, I think about third-world countries,” Dittmore said. “I kind of knew Ogden had poverty, but I hadn’t realized how much.”

Pemberton said one way people can help solve hunger would be to minimize the amount of food they throw away.

To get into the event, each person had to donate at least one can of food, which will go to both the Weber Cares Food Pantry and the Joyce Hansen Hall Food Bank. The club or organization that donated the most food will win $100.

“I hope that they become aware of the realities of food and security,” Thompson said. “Everybody knows that it exists in these third-world countries, and they see pictures and everything, but I hope it becomes more real to them.”

Another poverty awareness event will take place in February. The event will be a poverty simulation, which will be focused on poverty due to lack of financial resources. Each person will be given a profile and be assigned in groups families in poverty. They will need to survive for four symbolic “weeks” of 15 minutes.