Potomac State participates in OXFAM Hunger Banquet

Potomac State College OXFAM Hunger Banquet

Potomac State College of West Virginia University recently held their first OXFAM Hunger Banquet. Students, faculty and staff took part in the event as a way of drawing attention to the plight of hunger and poverty that affects people worldwide.

Just as millions of women, children and men around the world wait in food lines every day, so did this group of students, faculty and staff at Potomac State College of West Virginia University wait to be served during the College’s first OXFAM Hunger Banquet.

“Hunger is a worldwide problem and no country, no matter how prosperous it may be, is exempt from it,” said Jeremy Kaler, Student Activities Program Manager at the College who coordinated the banquet which was sponsored by the Student Involvement Office, the Social Justice Council and Dining Services.

As guests arrived at the OXFAM Hunger Banquet , they drew random tickets that assigned each of them to a high-, middle-, or low-income tier, then each income level received a corresponding meal. Those who received a low-income tier had to sit on the floor, stand where they could find room, or lean against something as they waited for and were finally given a small bowl of rice and only water to drink.

Those drawing the middle-income level ate red beans and rice for their meal but were able to sit at tables; however, the few who were fortunate enough to draw the high-income level cards were seated at lush tables that were properly set with expensive linens and dishes as they dined on carved London Broil, oven roasted red potatoes, Malibu blended vegetables, fresh-baked rolls, a salad of field greens with dressing, French Silk Apple pie, and their choice of coffee, tea and water.

Student Lewis Vicinus, a psychology and history major from Preston County, W.Va. who also serves as the Student Government Association president, had this to say about the experience, “Having to sit on the floor and eat rice really put hunger into perspective for me. We’re learning about poverty in my geography class now and this experience made me realize that a person could lose everything they own and possibly have to depend on others for even the most basic things. It also makes me really appreciate what my parents have been able to do for me.”

As in real life, some participants were able to move up to the high-income tier while others lost their imaginary savings and had to move to the low-income tier. One female student from the low-income tier complained that she didn’t see why she had to wait until all of the men were served before she could have a bowl of rice, not realizing that this is the norm in many countries.

According to the OXFAM web site, they believe that poverty is solvable and have taken steps to eliminate it by working together with an international confederation of 17 organizations worldwide, and while public education is only one of the ways to show awareness, they are convinced that changing the way people think about poverty and how to overcome its causes is an effective tool in combatting hunger in the world.

“The first step in the reform process of poverty is to raise awareness about the issue and to help people understand how hunger, poverty, culture, and power are interconnected.  The next step is getting involved and I encourage everyone that attended, or those that wanted to attend but couldn’t, to seek out local opportunities to help alleviate hunger in their communities,” added Kaler.