Monday, February 25, 2013

Oxfam Hunger Banquet @2013 IMPACT Conference

On Saturday, February 23, the New Mexico Oxfam Action Corps and Oxfam America hosted a Hunger Banquet as part of the 2013 IMPACT Conference, held at the University of New Mexico Student Union Building. New Mexico FoodCorps was a cosponsor of the event.

The more than 100 participants--comprised of college students from all over the U.S.--were divided into three categories. The 15 percent in the high-income tier were served a sumptuous meal (pasta shells and salad) and sat at tables with nice tablecloths. The 35 percent in the middle-income section sat on chairs and a simple meal of rice and beans.  And the 50 percent in the low-income tier sat on the floor and helped themselves to small portions of rice and water.  Here is the full Hunger Banquet script from Oxfam.

There was very good discussion from all three groups.  But as one person from the lower-income group noted, all the students in the room came from a middle-class bacground, so it was difficult to really get the big picture.  I still feel privileged eating this rice because I didn't have to work for it.

One participant in the middle-income group noted that despite the protein from the beans, he group was not getting a well-rounded nutritious meal.  A meal of rice and beans still leaves people at the edge.  There were no fruits or vegetables.

And there was the expected reaction from the upper income group.  This is a very humiliating experience, said one person.  Another noted,  I tried giving some salad to one of my friends in the lower-income group, and she didn't feel right taking it.

The participants then heard from me on how to follow up on their experience, mainly through advocacy. I told them about Bread for the World and other groups engaged in advocacy.  One of my props, a t-shirt from ONE, was very popular.  It reads: Actions Speak Louder.

Here are more photographs from the event.
Lowest income group sits on the floor
Middle income sits on chairs
High income sits at table

Amelia Pedini from  New MexicoFoodCorps was co-moderator
Jasmine McBeath from NM Oxfam Action Corps was also an MC
Adam Casados from NM FoodCorps

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