Hunger benefit teaches students about world hunger

Students were inspired to write Rep. Mike Pence after attending the hunger banquet sponsored by Oxfam America and the Social Justice League.

Junior Leisha Sigler wrote her letter to Pence at the end of the banquet and is supportive of Oxfam after attending their event.

"Anything else the organization is doing, I will support," she said.

Sigler said the event, which focused on the floods in Pakistan and world hunger, taught her more than she bargained for.

"It opened my eyes to a lot of issues I wasn't aware were going on," she said. "I learned how I can help now."

Students wrote the congressman to take action and support the Global Food Security Act, which is co-sponsored by Sen. Richard Lugar, and the Global Climate Fund.

Megan Whitacre, Oxfam America's Ball State chapter president, said Oxfam will be taking the letters to Pence next semester.

As students entered the L.A. Pittenger Student Center Ballroom on Thursday, they were given a card. On this card, they were either lower class, middle class or upper class.

About seven lucky students were assigned to the first-class table, where they were able to dine on a full meal.

A slightly larger group was designated as middle class. This group sat in chairs and had bread and toppings. This group represented about 35 percent of the world's population, many of whom work as day laborers or in sweatshops.

The biggest group of students was the lower class and sat on the floor. These students were given bread and water to eat. This group represents the majority of the world's population whose income is less than $986 a year.

The purpose was to illustrate the disparity of food throughout the world's social classes.

The event was organized with many different speakers taking part in the activity. Whitacre took the podium first and encouraged students to take action from the start.

"Use your position, as an educated and free American, to fight for those who cannot," she said. "Use your voice to speak for those without the freedom to speak for themselves."

Students were then given statistics on the current world hunger crisis.

"A child dies from hunger or preventable disease every 3.4 seconds," Colleen Wiley said. "That's 25,000 children a day."

A sharing period followed dinner where students gathered in small groups to discuss questions and share with the whole room. Some groups discussed how big corporations don't pay their workers well and others mentioned how poverty is in our backyard -- you don't have to go to a foreign country to realize this.

Senior Nathan Erwin was impressed with the organization of the event and had a change in his views.

"I'm motivated just to do more. My view on actually doing something has changed," he said.

Megan Faulkner, media relations coordinator for Oxfam, was more than satisfied with the organizations first event.

"I think a lot of people's eyes were opened, and hopefully they will go and tell other people about it," she said.

Faulkner said the group hopes to have another event either in the spring or the fall.


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