One group of people sat at a small table with jewelry around their necks. A second group sat at another table but without the option for jewelry. A third, larger group sat on cardboard boxes on the floor.
The students in these groups were in attendance for the Hunger Banquet, an event put on by Student Volunteer Connection, Oxfam and Bobcat Bounty. The Hunger Banquet attempts to bring awareness to the issues of food insecurity and poverty, and was open for all students. It took place Nov. 14 in the LBJ Student Center from 7-9 p.m.
At the event, attendees were randomly grouped into three different sections, with each group representing the global income disparity where 50 percent of people are low class, 30 percent are middle class and 20 percent are upper class. They were sat and fed differently based on the group they were in. The group representing the lower class was given spaghetti, the middle class group was given spaghetti and a roll and the high income group received spaghetti with optional meatballs, salad with dressing and a roll.
Faith Fuentes, Student Volunteer Connection event coordinator, said the purpose of this event was to help people have a better understanding of hunger.
“We can sit there and talk to our members all day long about (food insecurity) but until you’re put in the situation as close as we can get you to it, you’re not really going to understand it,” Fuentes said. “(The Banquet) is basically just for attendees to get another perspective of the concept of the reality of hunger.”
In addition to dividing attendees into different groups, a video and presentation were shown to help people further understand food insecurity.
Zoë Lopez, nutrition senior, did a presentation on how food insecurity affects Hays County.
“I think it’s interesting being a student on this campus,” Lopez said. “You think about Texas State and San Marcos and not about the county itself. Just as we are or aren’t struggling, there are people right down the road from us in our county that are struggling with food security, poverty and hunger.”
Madalyn Rhett Parr, Texas State Oxfam presidentsocial work junior, said students should care about the Hunger Banquet because of the relevance of food insecurity.
“I think we know from statistics that there are a lot of college students that are food insecure,” Parr said. “This affects millions of Americans, and I think if there wasn’t such a stigma around the issue, we would realize so many people around us truly are hungry.”
Each year, the Hunger Banquet takes place during Hunger and Homelessness Awareness week, which is a week before Thanksgiving.
During the event, participants were asked to take part in an activity as a way to check privilege. Some attendees raised their hands when asked if this activity made them uncomfortable.
“I think it’s really good for people to feel uncomfortable and understand (why) they feel uncomfortable,” Parr said. “The fact that a very simple set of questions had the power to make people feel uncomfortable really speaks to how often we do not check our basic privileges that we have in life.”
Hunger Banquet is an annual event open for all students who would like to attend and learn more about food insecurity. This event attempts to get students out of their comfort zones and become more aware of the world around them, as well as in their own county and town.