Release Date: 12/1/2011
Clarksville, Ark. --- How many of us will lament the extra pounds that seem to creep up on us during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays? And yet how many times do we sneak back to the dining table for just one more nibble of that Christmas ham, or a bit of fudge? What if the only thing on our plates - the only thing we would have for the entire day -- was a half cup of rice?
On December 8, people may have a chance to find out just what that would be like. Following the model of the Oxfam American Hunger Banquet®, the students in Dr. Jesse Weiss' CI class are planning their own Hunger Banquet to raise awareness about hunger issues and to collect food donations for the Johnson County Food Bank.
The evening will begin with PowerPoint presentations where the students will talk about world hunger. These short presentations will cover hunger issues in first world, second world, and third world countries, with a final presentation about hunger in the United States. Following the presentations, the banquet itself will begin. But, "there's a wrinkle to the meal," Dr. Weiss said. "Guests are assigned a different status, and they won't know what that status is until they get their meal." The meal will, in effect, become a visual aid of its own - a guest may find that he has been given an almost empty plate, while the person sitting next to him is eating from a plate loaded with food. "The point is to show people that there are relatively few like those of us in the United States, who have a lot," Dr. Weiss explained. "There are lots of folks who have very little."
The banquet is being planned and organized entirely by the students and peer mentors in Weiss' CI class. According to Weiss, the students have handled all the logistics, including selecting the food bank where the donations will go, working with Aramark to create the menus, and handling event publicity. "It's a really good way for them to get their community service hours, get experience in giving presentations and also in planning events," he said.
The Hunger Banquet will take place from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, December 8 in the university's Rogers Conference Center. Admission to the banquet is one non-perishable food item, although Weiss said guests are welcome to donate as many items as they wish. "The kids who come, and the staff who come are usually really generous - some people bring shopping bags of food," he said. The event is open to the campus community and any members of the public who would like to attend and make a donation.
"The students are excited about it," Dr. Weiss said. "I think it's also a really good way that we, as a campus, can give back to the community. Last time we did this we collected over 200 pounds of food, and it was a really nice thing to be able to take that down to the food bank, especially around the holidays."