Wayne State College students honored National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week by partaking in a hunger banquet in the Niobrara Room at the Kanter Student Center on Nov. 13.
Founded in 1975, at Villanova University, the community saw a need for a hunger banquet. It since expanded, happening every November. Quinneka Lee, the director of Residence Life, described the national event as a way to “help show awareness about students who were homeless.”
WSC students and staff organized the first-time trial event to show a shared economic status and what it meant to be low income. When the 22 attending students walked in, they would pick a color, which would represent what social class they were for that night. Chartwells staff served three meals for each social class: ramen noodles and a hot dog for the lower-class; rice, beans, and cornbread for the middle class; and fettucine alfredo for the higher-class.
“The attendees saw others get served a different meal, while others weren’t served yet, making them have an interactive mood at the event,” Lee said. “Different place cards [were set] at each table so guests could scan text it. [They then, from the scan text] got a story from someone who was on the higher end of social status or lower.”
Students who helped out at the event, such as senior Andrea Thompson, believed they had succeeded in showing the attending students a different perspective.
“Some of the people did not mind [the activity], they just ate whatever,” Thompson said. “Some people did not like what they had, but overall, they said the food was still good. At the end, we did let them try all the different foods Chartwells had made for us.”
The organizers of the event made sure to arrange the information, and the social class positions for the activity, in an anonymous manner.
“We had instructions,” Thompson said. “I went through and talked about hunger, how it affects the population, not only here, but everywhere. We wanted to do the activity anonymously, just to get a fair group. [Our idea was to] make it equal. [The banquet] benefitted those who came with what we had told them about hunger.”
In addition to the hunger banquet, WSC students and staff have also raised awareness of hunger in other ways, including the Omaha Food Truck, the WSC Food Pantry, and the community food pantry.