Hunger Banquet highlights inequity in access to food

By By Jade Gray

By Jade Gray

Though the two words may seem a bit of an oxymoron, the Union will bear witness Monday to the U’s sixth annual Hunger Banquet.

Sponsored by the Lowell Bennion Center, the banquet is themed “A World Without Hunger,” and aims to raise awareness on hunger-related issues at both the domestic and the global level.

According to a recent study performed by Bread for the World, a Christian advocacy organization, approximately 852 million people worldwide are suffering from extreme starvation today, which claims the life of a child every five seconds.

On a domestic level, 3.2 percent of American homes suffer from radical starvation.

The state of Utah is no exception. In the fall of 2006, the U.S. Department of Agriculture ranked Utah 10th in the nation for hunger issues. Utah was also ranked fifth for risk of hunger because, according to USDA, food isn’t always accessible to all residents in Utah.

Gina Cornia, director of Utahns Against Hunger, an organization based out of Salt Lake City, said that funds as well as access to food contribute to food insecurity.

“Incomes are an increasing issue. It’s not that there isn’t enough food around, some people just don’t have access to it,” she said.

Kathy Christiansen, a Service- Politics and Civic Engagement member, said that the need for awareness is crucial to a solution for food shortage.

“If a person cares about millions of children dying of starvation around the world, we want to provide them with the first step in spreading awareness, such as the Hunger Banquet,” Christiansen said.

Attendants of the event will be given “profile cards,” which assign them to certain socio-economic groups. The profile will be an actual identity of someone living in the world. The cards include a variety of information pertaining to class differences-for example, the high-class income group makes up only 15 percent of the global population, compared with 60 percent in the lower class bracket.

“Raising consciousness on this global issue locally will create results globally,” she said.

Bryan Murray, a sophomore political science major, said the place a person lives might affect his or her view.

“In places such as the United States, we don’t really feel the direct impact that hunger has on other communities,” he said.

Admission is $5 or five cans of food for students, $8 or eight cans of food for non-students. The food collected at the event will be donated to the Utah Food Bank, and proceeds will be given to Oxfam America, an organization committed to relieving global hunger. Matt Minkevitch, executive director of the Road Home, will be the event’s featured speaker.