Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Hunger Banquet Shows Plight of Poor

The message of the Oxfam Dinner Banquet this Wednesday was to inform students on the disparities in world economic development through an exercise that showed just how easy it is to fall through the cracks into poverty.

At the welcome table, students randomly chose from three different colored tickets, each ticket representing one of three socio-economic categories: developed countries, middle-income countries and low-income countries. Attendees learned about the average meal an inhabitant in each of these categories could expect, such as lasagna and salad for developed countries, grilled cheese for the middle-income countries and plain rice for the low-income countries. Students were also shuffled between the bottom two categories to show how little it takes for people to go from relative comfort to poverty.

Before the dinner, students listened to Oxfam America president Ray Offenheiser, the sponsor of the event, and Santiago Rivera, a coffee grower in Guatemala who works under the “fair-trade coffee” program. The fair-trade coffee program, supported groups like Oxfam, allows small coffee growers to form agricultural cooperatives and sell their coffee directly to American markets. According to Oxfam, coffee growers are paid two to three times the amount of the world coffee price. The higher price allows the growers to increase their quality of life, send their children to school and modernize their homes and villages.

To educate consumers about the fair trade program, retailers, such as Starbucks and Green Mountain, place a special decal on their products. Consumers who want to support the program can then only buy coffee products that display the decal.

“The hunger banquet was a very interesting way to show the disparities in the world in a first-hand way that people may never have thought of before. We were very happy with the turnout. Over 100 people came. We also wanted to introduce the idea of fair trade coffee because we want Georgetown students to get involved. It doesn’t take a lot to get it going, and like the sweatshop movement, university students hold the key to success,” said Philippa Sparg (SFS ’03), one of the events’ coordinators.

Donate to The Hoya

Your donation will support the student journalists of Georgetown University. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Hoya