OGDEN, Utah – The Weber State University Community Involvement Center’s upcoming Hunger Banquet will provide food donors not only a meal, but also some insight into Ogden-area poverty.
The center’s first-ever Hunger Banquet takes place Nov. 21 at 6 p.m. in Shepherd Union Ballroom A. The price of admission is a bag of non-expired canned goods, which can be dropped off at the Community Involvement Center (Shepherd Union 327) by Nov. 14 in exchange for an entry-ticket wristband.
Guests will be randomly assigned to a high-, middle- or low-income bracket in percentages reflecting poverty statistics in the Ogden area and will receive meals and seating assignments based on those brackets.
“The idea of a hunger banquet is to dramatize and show how poverty affects an area,” said Noel Wilkinson, an AmeriCorps Volunteer in Service to America (VISTA) member. “We want the different participants to really feel like they are in the different area, socioeconomically speaking, so that they’ll see this distinction between the super-wealthy and those below the poverty line who may struggle because they don’t have fancy food or a fancy place to eat.”
Based on U.S. census data, 44 percent of Ogden households earn about $35,000 or less annually, so they are considered “working poor” or live below the poverty line set by the state of Utah in order to qualify for assistance programs. Forty-eight percent are considered middle-income earners. Eight percent are in the high-income bracket, with annual household income topping $100,000.
“The event is a way for students, faculty, staff and the community to learn about poverty and how it affects friends and neighbors in Ogden,” Wilkinson said. “It also gives us a way, once they learn about poverty, to let them instantly feel like they’ve helped because they’ve donated food to be able to attend.” The event also will feature a video and speakers discussing poverty issues, and guests will have the opportunity to sign up as volunteers with several community organizations that address the needs of those in poverty in the Ogden area.
Collected food will be donated to the Weber Cares Food Pantry and the Joyce Hansen Hall Food Bank, located at Catholic Community Services.
Details about the event are available at www.weber.edu/CommunityInvolvement/Supplemental_Pages/hungerbanquet.html.
Similar hunger banquets have taken place at other universities, including Brigham Young University, over the years. WSU’s Amnesty International organization has hosted a Human Rights Week Hunger Banquet, with participants eating a First World, multicourse meal or a Third World rice-and-beans meal.
Visit weber.edu/wsutoday for more news about Weber State University.
- Noel Wilkinson, AmeriCorps VISTA member
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- Brice Wallace, office of Media Relations
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