More than 70 CSU students forewent buffets and salad bars Thursday night and swiped their student meal cards in exchange for a scoop of rice, which they ate with their hands on the floor.
The students’ sacrifice was part of fifth annual Oxfam hunger banquet. At the event, participants were assigned to low, middle or upper class tables and were served a meal in accordance with their status.
While approximately half of the estimated 150 students attending the event dined on rice alone, 35 percent enjoyed a “middle class” meal of rice and beans, which they were allowed to eat with a fork on cafeteria benches.
Tables and silverware sets were reserved for the event’s upper class that dined on a three-course meal consisting of a Caesar salad, fettuccine alfredo and a dessert of chocolate and fruit.
Though there was no rule against “upper class” students sharing their meals with those less fortunate, event organizer and International Programs Coordinator Shauna DeLuca said she saw very little plate sharing taking place.
“I felt like it would ruin the experience if I (shared),” freshman zoology major Shannon Andrews said.
Andrews attended the dinner for the first time this year. Despite the quality of her meal,the event itself gave her a new perspective on her status among the world population.
“My view of upper class is not the same as the world’s view of upper class,” Andrews said, adding that she had always considered herself a middle class citizen.
In an effort to gain even greater perspective on world hunger, around 25 students spent the week leading up to the dinner challenging themselves to survive on meager rations.
The challenge, called “Seven dollars for seven days,” required participants to survive on a food budget of no more than a dollar each day for the week leading up to the banquet.
Junior music major A.J. Bush attended the banquet after completing the challenge for the third year running. She was assigned the poorest class at the event, and said she was anticipating ending her diet of rice, beans and oatmeal with a bowl of fresh fruits or vegetables.
Those participating at the event were shown presentations by Oxfam Intenational, an organization devoted to finding solutions for world poverty, and the Larimer County Food Bank, which distributes food to families and individuals in need across the county.
While the turnout was diminished from previous years, which have seen 170 to 200 students, the event was an overall success in its mission to give an experiential education about poverty to typically fortunate American students, DeLuca said.
“I hope even though they’re not leaving with a full stomach, they’re leaving with ideas about how to take action to make a difference,” she said.
Senior Reporter Matt Minich can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.