As a part of the Earth Day festivities on campus this previous semester, the on-campus chapter of Collegiate Farm Bureau hosted their newly-developed “Hunger Banquet.” This unique event was designed to teach students and help them recognize the growing issue of food inequality and how the global food supply is vastly unbalanced.
The Hunger Banquet was one of the final events of this year’s “Mission Discovery,” the rebranding of Ag Earth Day. This day-long celebration took place on April 23, 2019.
Approximately 20 people participated in the Farm Bureau event which simulated how the global food supply is divided up. To do this, the participants were separated into three groups: 20 percent of participants represented the world’s high-income group, 30 percent represented the world’s middle-income group, and 50 percent represented the world’s low-income group.
The event featured many statistics and anecdotes all of which were presented via a script sponsored by OXFAM, a group of charitable organizations whose goal is to address global poverty issues.
At the end of the event, food was distributed. Those representing the high-income group received a meal that included all of the food groups along with dinner rolls, a salad, and drinks. Members of the middle-income group were given a simple meal of rice and beans with water, and the low-income group received water and was to serve themselves rice from a community bowl.
“Hunger is about power. Its roots lie in inequalities in access to resources. The results are illiteracy, poverty, war, and the inability of families to grow or buy food,” read a member of Farm Bureau from the OXFAM materials.
The current executive board for Farm Bureau includes Aryn Copeland as president, Carly Fitz as public relations, Chyann Kendal as secretary, Joe Schmidt as treasurer, and Jese Shell as vice president.
“I think the Hunger Banquet had a very good turnout. This year’s turnout was around double from last year’s, and we only hope to keep growing this event,” said Schmidt.
The Hunger Banquet made its debut to Wilmington’s campus last year. Aryn Copeland was then the vice president of Farm Bureau and helped plan the first Hunger Banquet.
“[The Hunger Banquet] is something that a lot of people have down through FFA. I had never done one before, so I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into. After I learned more about it, it was really exciting to me since I focus on food insecurity when it comes to agriculture. I think it fits right in with Wilmington’s values—it peacefully demonstrates how fortunate we are and shows how other people live like,” said Copeland.
Planning for this event began when the CA-361 Event Coordination and Logistics course started planning Mission Discovery. Corey Cockerill, the adviser for Farm Bureau and professor for the aforementioned class, proposed incorporating the Hunger Banquet into the Earth Day celebration. The students in Farm Bureau jumped on that idea.
“A number that we read that always astounds me is that the average income you need in order to sit at the high-class table is roughly $8,000 per year, which is well below the U.S. poverty line. I think it is the perfect event to open people’s eyes in a way that’s not asking people to change how they are purchasing or eating food, but to just think about it,” said Copeland.
Farm Bureau plans on continuing to host the Hunger Banquet annually. Through trial and error, they are perfecting the event through better planning, management, and rehearsal so that their message truly sinks in.
“It’s exciting to know it hasn’t reached its full capacity, and I’m excited to see what happens after I leave. I think it could be a big thing on campus,” said Copeland.
The Hunger Banquet’s goal to educate the WC campus on the unequal food distribution seen across the globe will remain throughout the upcoming years.
“We want participants to see the inequality and realize that there is a problem. Hopefully, they start making small steps in their lives to help solve this issue. These small steps could include donating time or goods to a local food pantry, donating clothing, purchasing gently used items instead of new, or purchasing ethically produced goods,” said Schmidt.