(November 26, 2013)

Students raise awareness of global poverty at Hunger Banquet

SHREVEPORT, LA — Centenary students recently hosted an Oxfam Hunger Banquet in an effort to bring attention to global inequalities tied to poverty, hunger, and injustice. Student leaders and groups such as Santé, National Residence Hall Honorary, and the Residence Hall Association organized the event, which is designed by Oxfam America.

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Student leaders set up for the Oxfam Hunger Banquet

"Human rights are not contingent on country of origin," said Centenary student Jacob Robison. "They are universal and non-negotiable. The way we see it, poverty is not unsolvable; if we eliminate injustice, we eliminate poverty."

Students in attendance received a card determining their "income level" for the night. The "high-income" participants sat at a table and ate a meal from the cafeteria. "Medium-income" students sat on chairs and ate rice without forks. The "low-income" students sat on the floor without shoes and ate rice without plates. Water was not provided for the low and medium-income levels; also, female participants were instructed to let the male students serve themselves first.

During the event, student organizers delivered a presentation describing the various circumstances under which people suffer from poverty and hunger. To illustrate the arbitrary nature of these obstacles, several students were picked at random to switch between medium and low-income. Students were encouraged to take action by signing an Oxfam petition and donating money.

"I'm hopeful that this event provoked thought and action," said Centenary student Joanna Warren, lead organizer of the event. "It's a little stressful and nerve-racking to plan an event like this, but I feel like it was well worth it."

Oxfam America is one of many organizations Centenary's Living Learning Community Santé has partnered with to improve the health of some of the least advantaged people and overcome poverty. Santé students collected donations at the Hunger Banquet to provide victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines clean water and sanitation kits.

Oxfam America is a global organization that directly addresses poverty, hunger and injustice by saving lives, developing long-term solutions to poverty, and campaigning for social change.