Hunger Banquet

Photo: Members of the 2011 Uganda Project, which the Hunger Banquet helped fund.


Every year, in the midst of cold-weather complaints and scholarship application stress, the annual Hunger Banquet provides an opportunity for students to consider the world beyond themselves.

As residents of a fairly stable community in central Iowa, it’€™s oftentimes easy for us to lose sight of the problems that many people face across the globe. When we see the ease at which many of our necessities come to us, whether it be something simple such as food and water, or complex, like education and employment, we easily forget that it is not like this for the majority of the people around the world. Although it is not easy, to change the view of our community in one short event, the Hunger Banquet provides an eye-opening experience for students and community members to be educated of the plight of many people in different cultures throughout the world.

The event, which is sponsored by both SHEPH and the Uganda Project, provides an opportunity for students and other community members to come together in raising funds for the two organizations, while at the same time learning of intercultural issues. Each spring, the Hunger Banquet serves as one of the largest fundraisers for both SHEPH the and annual Uganda Trip. The event, however, is about more than just raising money.

“€œIt is also important for us to spread awareness to the community of Ames about our club and what we stand for,”€ says SHEPH leader Charlotte Mann. “€œIt is important for people to know about the unequal distribution of food and wealth around the world, and how that impacts our community.”€

The event follows the same basic structure each year, although there are a few basic changes. When people walk into the door of the banquet, they will be given a piece of paper that will tell them whether they are in the upper, middle, or lower class. The highest class will be served a full meal; the middle class, a moderately-sized meal of rice and beans; and the lower class, a small meal of rice.

“€œThe majority of the people who come will be put into the lower class, and sit on the floor to eat rice with their hands,” says Mann. “€œIt will still be an enjoyable night though, even if we all are a little uncomfortable.”

€ In addition to the meal provided, the Hunger Banquet will also provide guest speakers and entertainment for the banquet attendees. This year, English Teacher James Webb will be emceeing the event, and Senior Jacinta Mirsa will be speaking to the group. David Acker, the dean of agriculture at Iowa State, will also be educating the audience on worldwide hunger and poverty. In addition, several different groups will be performing including Stranger than Fiction (the English department band), Jaw Harp Potential, and a group of Thai Dancers from Iowa State.

The event will take place on the evening of Saturday February 25, in the Ames High School cafeteria. Tickets are $10 each, and can be bought beforehand by a SHEPH or Uganda Project member, or at the door the night of the event. “€œThe Hunger Banquet is a great event that will hopefully continue for several years,” says Mann. “People should definitely come because it will be an excellent learning experience and a fun night!”