SHEPH Hunger Banquet educates, infoms participants

The week of April 14-18 was Ames High’s annual hunger week, sponsored by SHEPH, Students Helping to Eliminate Poverty and Hunger. The week included an intense change drive battle between the various foreign language classes, as well as the hunger banquet on April 17. The hunger banquet raised awareness of hunger in the world by running a simulation where people are broken into three classes and given a realistic amount of food according to which class they belong. The upper class dined on spaghetti and brownies, the middle class ate rice and beans, and the lower class was given a small portion of rice in a bowl and ate with their fingers. “The simulation is meant to help cement the issue of hunger into the mind and put everything in perspective,” said junior Marley Dobyns, who helped organize the hunger banquet. “The simulation adds to the impact whereas with a movie, one is energized at the end, but that energy fades quickly afterwards.” The banquet also featured speakers who spoke about their personal experiences with poverty and hunger in places like Nicaragua, Appalachia, the Middle East, and Uganda. In addition, a former Ames High graduate and junior at Iowa State, Rachael Cox, who helped found SHEPH in 2004, spoke about her experiences in Mexico and Kenya. “The five speakers helped to develop the snapshots of poverty and stressed the universal quality of hunger,” Dobyns said. “The speakers were meant to help connect people the same age and show them that if one person did it, then I can too.” The banquet was not only open to high school students, but also to the general public. “The main purpose of the hunger banquet is to raise awareness of hunger, SHEPH, and our semester project,” Dobyns said. “The hunger banquet serves as a SHEPH meeting for the public and helps get them involved in hunger and poverty issues.” The proceeds of the hunger banquet and change drive went towards SHEPH’s second semester project of building homes for orphans of AIDS victims in Uganda. “SHEPH has two projects each year; one that is non-African and one that is connected to Africa. Once Mr. Mooney told us [the four leaders of SHEPH] about the housing, we decided that it was perfect. Each house costs $1000 and gives a family a future. Also the project has a direct impact and we can see exactly where the money is going.” At the end of the hunger banquet, SHEPH raised more than $600 through donations. “Hopefully people will leave with an impression of the messages from the speakers,” Dobyns said. “Even though the speakers talked about different places, all highlighted similar points of learning from people in poverty who appreciate life despite their shortcomings. “I hope that the success of the hunger banquet this year marks an increase in poverty awareness and an increase in the motivation to do something about it.”