To Model Hunger Worldwide, Students Participate in Interactive Hunger Banquet

As some students enjoyed luxurious meals with salad, pasta and tomato sauce, bread rolls and lemonade served in glass goblets, most ate a meal of just rice with their hands during the Hunger Banquet on Wednesday night, experiencing first-hand the unequal distribution of food among socioeconomic classes in the world. The Community Service Office organized the Hunger Banquet to raise awareness in honor of National Hunger and Homelessness Week. Students who participated were divided into three categories representing different income levels by luck of the draw. Each class, the high, middle and low income, had its own distinct meal. Students placed in the high income group ate meals with full servings of salad, pasta and bread rolls. Middle income level placed students ate beans and rice. Eighty-five percent of students were placed in the lowest income level and sat on the floor, eating plain rice with their hands. “This event is a metaphor for how food and other resources are inequitably distributed in the world,” said Sarah Coghlan, Assistant Director of Community Service. “Everyone on Earth has the same basic needs; it is only our circumstances – where we live, and the culture we are born into – that differ. Some of us are born into relative prosperity and security while millions, through no choice of their own, are born into poverty,” continued Coghlan. Kelley Biedermann, Placespace Program Director of Horizons for Homeless Children, spoke during the Hunger Banquet about hunger in the United States and the growing percentage of youths in the homeless population. “I want people to be aware of what the changes [in homelessness] are and what the face of homelessness looks like. I think high school students can relate better to younger mothers and younger children,” said Biedermann. The average homeless family consists of a mother in her late twenties with two or three children around the pre-school age. Domestic violence, substance abuse and lack of affordable housing and medical insurance are among the leading factors contributing to the recent rise in homelessness, according to Biedermann. “I think this type of event can really shake people a little bit and get them thinking outside of themselves to just realize what’s really going on outside of the ‘Andover Bubble’ and in the greater world,” said Coghlan. “Typically, these events can be used as fundraisers, but from an educational perspective it’s more important for me to have students walk away having learned something rather than just given money to an organization they’re not quite sure about,” continued Coghlan. Biedermann encouraged Andover students to participate in volunteer opportunities and the upcoming Horizons for Homeless Children toy and art supplies holiday drive. “We go to a number of meal kitchens that we’ve been partners with for many years… the way to get involved from my perspective, versus raising money, is to really do direct action,” said Coghlan.