Contact: James Carskadon
STARKVILLE, Miss.— Mississippi State students got a hands-on lesson on the impact of hunger in Mississippi and around the world during the MSU Hunger Banquet and Stop Hunger Now meal packing program Friday [Oct. 21].
The university’s Maroon Volunteer Center and Center for the Advancement of Service-Learning Excellence provided students with the opportunity, which shed light on hunger and inequality issues in the state and allowed students to work to address global hunger by packing 10,000 meals that will be sent to those in need.
The MSU Hunger Banquet is based on the Oxfam Hunger Banquet model, which provides an interactive event that illustrates wealth inequality and food security issues. The banquet is designed to enlighten participants on the food insecurity that exists in Mississippi and provoke thoughtful conversations about what can be done to alleviate these conditions.
At the banquet, a meal based on randomly-assigned wealth levels was served, helping participants realize what a meal is like for those in the highest income brackets and for those in the lowest.
Some students, like freshman biological sciences major Taras Woodson, sat on the floor and ate a modest serving of sweet potatoes for lunch. The Columbus native looked on as other students ate a full meal of chicken, fish, salad and a dessert. However, Woodson caught a break when a friend at one of the “wealthy” tables gave him some fish.
“It kind of opens your eyes and shows the real world,” Woodson said. “It shows one of America’s biggest flaws, our poverty. We need to outgrow these issues. People shouldn’t go hungry when there’s food being thrown away and wasted.”
AmeriCorps VISTA Member Delilah Schmidt helped organize the program and informed participants that nearly 25 percent of Mississippians do not receive enough food every day. She encouraged students to donate to food banks, volunteer for local food pantries and contact elected officials to encourage them to do more to address hunger issues.
“The roots of hunger are inequalities in access to education, resources and power,” Schmidt said.
The Stop Hunger Now meal packing program was created to give dedicated individuals the opportunity to participate in a hands-on international hunger relief program and to become educated, engaged advocates for the world’s poor and hungry. In 2014, Stop Hunger Now and its global affiliates packaged 50.6 million meals.
The Office of Student Leadership and Community Engagement at MSU aspires to educate, enlighten, and empower tomorrow’s leaders -- everyday citizens who will ultimately transform the social, educational and economic fabric of communities across Mississippi and the United States. For more, see www.slce.msstate.edu.
MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at www.msstate.edu.