It is not often that people of every social class sit down to eat at the same table. But on Thursday, guests of NDSU’s Hunger Banquet did just that.
At each table sat a variety of place settings: two with salads and metal cutlery, some with a plastic knife and fork and others with a single plastic soon. Guests quickly learned that some would be receiving a three-course meal, a few would be eating tater tot hot dish, while the rest would be getting a simple bowl of rice.
Freshman math education major Jessica Prigge was part of the “lower class” that received the bowl of rice.
“At first I thought it was a joke, not going to lie,” Prigge said with a laugh. “Then once I got it it’s like ‘Oh.’ It’s just a little shocking.”
The meal was meant to stimulate the realities of poverty throughout the world and to shed light on homelessness and hunger in the Fargo-Moorhead area.
Following the meal, guest speaker and youth minister Erik Hatch reflected on the meal and how each “class” felt throughout the simulation.
“Sitting at a table with people who are grossly more impoverished than us doesn’t happen very often,” Hatch said.
Hatch, who started Fargo’s annual 24- hour poverty simulation Homeless and Hungry, emphasized the impact that hunger and poverty has on children. He called on his audience, which was primarily NDSU students, to reach out to underprivileged kids in the area.
“The greatest possible thing we can do as young adults is get involved in the life of a young person,” Hatch said.
The speaker suggested that students take time to go to homeless shelters and experience firsthand what is happening in the F-M area. Hatch said that helping at-risk youth is the best way to prevent them from becoming impoverished adults.
He also suggested that students get involved with a charity that focuses specifically on helping children such as the Big Brothers Big Sisters program and the Legacy Children’s Foundation.
But one student in the audience asked Hatch how much time should be devoted to volunteering before it interferes with their education. Although he didn’t have a direct answer, Hatch said that what he remembers most about his college education was not the classes he took or the projects he did. He said he remembers his charity work the most.
Seniors Jordyn Geisenhof and Katie Worral spearheaded this year’s Hunger Banquet alongside the Lions Club and the NDSU Volunteer Network. The two of them also co-chaired last year’s Big Event, and Geisonhof said they wanted to do one final charity event for their senior year.
Geisonhof, a community health major, said she hopes the Hunger Banquet made an impact on those who attended.
“I hope that (people) know that even as a college kid, you can make a difference and change someone’s life,” she said. “Even while you’re changing someone else’s life you’re changing yours as well.”
To learn more about homelessness in the F-M area, see “Area Homelessness Continues to Increase” below.