Next Wednesday, January 16, the Penn State chapter of Oxfam will co-host an Oxfam America Hunger Banquet® with two other student organizations — Food for Thought and Global Brigades. The event, which will take place in the Atrium of the Smeal Business building, is designed to juxtapose how the world’s wealthiest eat day-to-day alongside the world’s poorest, in an attempt to generate awareness of the global problems of hunger and poverty.
“The hunger banquet will randomly separate participants into the world’s proportion of hunger and poverty,” said Oxfam Penn State President Sarah Martinez. “50% will be placed in the ‘low’ income group, 35% in the ‘middle’ income group, and 15% into the ‘high’ income group, and people receive a meal corresponding to their group. It is an interactive hunger simulation that inspires people to action to fight hunger and poverty worldwide.”
The event is free to attend, but donations of either money or canned food are welcome. The donated food will go toward the State College food bank. Attendees will receive a ticket that will randomly assign them to a seat and a meal, just as the “luck of the draw” might determine whether or not you are born into poverty or relative prosperity. After the event, attendees are invited to reflect upon the experience.
The hunger banquet will be one of Oxfam Penn State’s biggest events of the year, but the student-organized chapter of the larger national organization will be hosting several other events throughout the semester. Some of these events include a refugee simulation and an joint event with the Paalam Project, which “allows for school youth located in post-conflict Sri Lanka to use the creative art of playwriting as a tool for self-reflection and community meditation.” Through these events, Oxfam Penn State hopes to expand student awareness of global issues “beyond the State College bubble.”
“I feel like a lot of students might not be aware of pressing international issues that people face around the world — inequalities and injustices such as the Sahel food crisis or the costs of extracting resources in vulnerable communities,” said Martinez.
For more information on Oxfam Penn State or for questions on the hunger banquet, email the student organization at PennStateOxfam@gmail.com.