Carleton College's student newspaper since 1877

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Hunger Banquet: A “Taste” of Hunger

<ecting a catered dinner and discussion about hunger in the United States, students filed into the Great Hall last Wednesday to attend Carleton’s Hunger Banquet, hosted by Residential Life. Most students did not expect to leave hungry.

“The event reminded me how lucky I am to have access to the fresh produce I eat daily. Only the upperclassmen at the event had fruits or vegetables in their meals,” said Lily Gage ’15.

The Hunger Banquet simulated hunger issues in America today. Students were randomly divided into groups: high, middle and low income based on tags they received upon entering. Students were served meals that simulated a typical American family of their assigned income level.

“I was a General Contractor, made $55,000 annually, and was considered middle class,” reports Phoebe Chastain ‘14. “Class is not something that Carleton students discuss frequently or openly, and this was a rare opportunity to do so with a diversity of students. The event simplified class in many ways but showed the inequalities of food equity in the United States fairly well.”

Only one student in the room was granted upper class status, and was served a tablecloth platter of fresh salad, lasagna, and cheesecake. Middle-class students were given buffet-style pasta, breadsticks, pudding, and a glass of unsweetened tea, while the lower class was served small portions of butter noodles family style.

“It reminded me of how great the dining hall food is. I have so many healthy, varied options at every meal!” said Gage.

Hosted by Tegra Straight,  Diversity Coordinator of Residential Life, the Hunger Banquet was modeled after the OxFam American Hunger Banquet, which focuses on global hunger issues. Straight wanted to focus on America, rather than world hunger to raise awareness on domestic social issues.

“I hope people were able to open their eyes to food access issues as they occur in the United States, and recognize how the experiences of their fellow Carls may differ from their own,” said Straight.

The Banquet also raised awareness on the importance of discussing the impact of food in everyday life.

“Food is a tangible thing that connects to all aspects of life and through changing our relationship to food we can create a more just and sustainable future,” said Winnie Zwick ‘13, the facilitator for the event.
Zwick became inspired to help lead the event after attending a Food Justice Conference. According to LaDonna Redmond from the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, “the call for food justice is a call for inclusion of every community, ethnic group, class and gender identity.”

“We talk a lot about racial, religious, and sexual orientation diversity,” said Gage ‘15, “but we often overlook socioeconomic status diversity. The hunger banquet was a great reminder that just because we all eat the same food at the dining hall, doesn’t mean we all come from the same level of financial security.”

Next year, Straight hopes the event will continue to improve. She wants to find a speaker to talk about food security at the event, and talk more about what students can do as part of the Carleton community. Straight hopes to gather more student participation and encourage students to foster more discussions that raise social awareness on campus.

Whatever happens, Straight wants the dinner to remain thought provoking.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Carletonian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *