The Dyson Inclusion and Diversity Program and Anabel’s Grocery hosted a hunger banquet simulation in Mann library on Tuesday to increase awareness on Cornell’s campus of global economic insecurity.
The banquet aimed to portray “how the intersection of hunger and poverty come together within the world,” said Catherine Wei ’19, vice president of education for the Dyson program.
Each participant was given a character card, in which they were identified as being either low income, middle income or high income, and received varying portions of food to share within their group based on income tier.
“Based on the 2011 Pew Research [Center] data, 71 percent of the global population lives on less than 10 dollars a day,” Wei said, adding that “21 percent are part of the middle income, and 7 percent are part of the high income tier.”
Thus, about 35 attendees were put in the low-income, 10 in the middle-income and 5 in the high-income categories to create proportions mimicking the real world.
The high-income tier received a meal of water, chicken, salad, pasta and bread, while the middle-income tier received water, chips, beans and rice. Those in the low-income tier received only water and rice.
In addition, the simulation leaders invited the men in the low-income category to come forward and receive their food before the women as a way to demonstrate gender inequality.
“We’re here today because more than 2.2 billion people live in poverty, 795 million people suffer from chronic hunger,” Julia Kharzeev ’19 said. “[Yet] our planet produces enough food to feed everyone.”
Michelle Tu ’18 from Anabel’s programming team said students who cannot consistently afford meals can feel isolated when surrounded by upper-class peers.
“On a campus like Cornell, food insecurity can be really stigmatizing because we are surrounded by large endowments and Ivy Leagues are associated with greater wealth,” Tu said.
“About 22 percent of students on campus are either skipping meals often or very often due to financial constraints,” Tu added, citing a recent Cornell survey.
Prof. John Hoddinott, human ecology, said his work in Ethiopia with the Safety Net Programme aimed to increase resources causing food insecurity for the rural poor, create assets and enable self-sufficiency.
“The gap between the wealthy and the many living in poverty is steadily growing wider,” Kharzeev said, while “everyone on earth has the same basic needs and it is only our circumstances, where we live, and the culture into which we are born that differ.”