Hosted by the Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement (CLCE), the 2018 Hunger Banquet will be giving students the chance to experience being in a different income class on Thursday.
The Hunger Banquet is 6 to 8 p.m. and will be located in the Marshall Student Center ballroom.
To raise awareness for homelessness and hunger, the Oxfam Hunger Banquet will have a simulation of the three different living standards that gives students a better understanding on the causes of poverty and its effects. Oxfam Hunger Banquets are interactive events that are organized to bring attention towards local and global poverty, and they also allow for opportunities to make a difference for the cause.
Blanche Pinto, the chair of the Hunger Banquet, said the event is eye-opening.
“It really hits you,” Pinto said. “You don’t realize how big the gap is between being wealthy and being in a low-income situation.”
Upon arriving to the event, students must draw a ticket at random that will place them in one of the three income classes: High-income, middle-income, or low-income. According to Pinto, the simulation experience is dependent on the income class a person is placed at.
“It’s a really big simulation on what people go through,” Pinto said. “High-income students get a three-course meal, while middle-income students get served rice and maybe pasta, with either a water or lemonade. But, low-income students are only served some rice and water.”
Each class is differentiated with a type of setting that sets its apart. According to Pinto, high-income students have servers and a more banquet-like seating. Middle-income participants must serve themselves and they are placed in lunch tables. However, low-income participants must sit on the ground on cardboard boxes.
According to Pinto, the event will include a presentation with statistics and different scenarios in which participants are forced to move up and down the income ladder. Based off real-life situations, students are met with the reality of the income gap.
“Some people in middle income will get hit with a drought and not afford it, so they’ll be dropped down to low-income,” Pinto said. “One or two people could then do good and move back to middle-income.”
Pinto also said there will be a comparison scenario between one person from the high-income class and one person from the low-income class.
“There will be two people born on the same day, but born into different scenarios so their lives are completely different,” Pinto said.
The comparison is designed to show how some people are brought up not having all they need, while others are brought up having a reach to most things, according to Pinto. The opportunities of both individuals are examined, and participants are pushed to think.
Pinto said questions will be raised to engage the audience while examining the multiple scenarios that will be presented. “We’ve seen high-income people feel bad,” Pinto said. “They start sharing their food with the people in low-income.”
Along with the presentation and created scenarios, Pinto also said that this year the Hunger Banquet will have a USF student guest speaker, Jadejha Edwards.
“We have a USF student who used to be homeless that will be speaking at event,” Pinto said. “She’s now a student leader on campus.”
According to ABC, Edwards was born into her mother’s gang life before turning her life around with the help of a program that helps homeless youths. She found herself homeless and lost at 16, but despite this she graduated high school with a 6.1 GPA and paved a life for herself at USF.
Among the other guest speakers are representatives of Metropolitan Ministries, Trinity Café and Hope for the Homeless. According to Pinto, they’ll be speaking briefly about how they have helped the Tampa Bay area and what they’re doing that’s unique to help the homeless and hungry.
Pinto said she believes there are things people should do as a community to help end homelessness and hunger altogether.
“A lot of students have told me that they’ve been moved by the event,” Pinto said. “We’ve seen students motivated to go and help out through volunteering in their free time.”