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OxFam Feeds the Mind and Body

You have likely never seen the wealthy eating fine cuisine on the curb, or the poor consuming rice and water next to the ice sculpture; however, that's exactly the kind of scene organizers of the OxFam Hunger Banquet want you to envision. The Oxfam Hunger Banquet has been a part of the National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week (November 16-22), which is a national effort to promote education, action, and awareness about hunger in the world.

A student in the middle class share her beans with a lower class student.

With nearly a billion people worldwide suffering from chronic hunger, OxFam strives to show the disparity between the 'haves' and the 'have-nots.' During the recent OxFam Hunger Banquet, attendees assumed an identity in one of various social classes (ranging from poor to wealthy) and ate food that would be considered common to that class. While some savored the delights of fine cuisine and exceptional service, others ate basic staples.

"We are here today because 1.2 billion people live in poverty," says Deidra Cody, emcee of the banquet. "Eight-hundred-and-forty-two million of these people suffer from chronic hunger. Every 2.9 seconds, a child dies from hunger and other preventable diseases. Thatís 30,000 children a day. You may think hunger is about too many people and too little food. Not true. Our rich and bountiful planet produces enough to feed every woman, man, and child on earth. Itís about power. The roots of hunger lie in inequalities in access to education and resources. The results are illiteracy, poverty, war, and the inability of families to grow or buy food. Today, you join Oxfamís fight against hunger."

As the guests entered the Commons, they randomly selected an identity from the lower, middle, or upper class. Their seats were destined accordingly to their economics status, which would determine their lifestyle. The high-income people represent 15 percent of the world's population, who made $9,076 or more per year, while the middle class people made up 25 percent of the world's population, who earn about $912 and $9,075 per year. The lower class people made up 60 percent of the world's population.

Peoples' lifestyles were determined by their economic success. The upper class sat at a fancy table and received a bounty of food, while the less fortunate ate rice while sitting on the floor. The people in the middle class ate rice, beans, and water for dinner.

Two speakers, a student at Berea College Gyude Moore from Liberia and John Payne, retired pediatricians spoke about the effect of hunger. Moore gave the facts of the prevalence of hunger in the world and shared with the audience his personal experiences in his homeland. Moore said, "We are human beings and we must be able and willing to help one another."

More than just a social gathering or mental exercise, the event will benefit local food banks with a donation of proceeds.

This event was co-sponsored by CELTS, Student Fair-Trade Committee, Dr. Janice Blythe's Service-Learning Class, and the International Center.

Oxfam members meet at 8:00 pm every Monday in the Cafe Lounge in Woods Penn. For more information about the Oxfam Group, please contact Gyude Moore.

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