Host a Hunger Banquet

Looking to engage your church or group in a discussion about world poverty? The Hunger Banquet® is what you’re looking for.

Last Friday, I joined For His Glory Community Church in Fullerton, Calif., as they hosted their own Hunger Banquet for their youth group. These banquets work well in full church congregations, children’s groups and community Bible study groups. Any number of people–from a dozen to several hundred–can participate effectively.

Hunger Banquet discussion

For His Glory Community Church invited their youth group as the audience for this particular banquet. Hunger Banquet also works well for full church congregations, children’s groups and small groups.

How it Works

The Hunger Banquet is a deeply impacting event that your church will never forget. Participants are invited to attend a meal where they will learn about world hunger and poverty.

What they don’t know before the meal is that they will be placed in randomly assigned groups. A few will be classified as the rich. Some will be middle class. Many will be poor.

During a Hunger Banquet, each group experiences the wealth or poverty of their representative group. The very rich dine on a meal that most north Americans would consider standard: meat, vegetables, side dishes and clean water.

The middle class receives a small bowl of rice and beans, typical of the meal that middle-class households often consume around the world. The poorest group sits on the floor, receiving only a communal pot of rice that leaves them all hungry.

Take a Hunger Quiz

At last Friday’s event, banquet organizer Melissa Runcie led a lively discussion on common misconceptions about world hunger. Participants were surprised to learn the real answers to questions like:

  • True or false? Hunger is caused by overpopulation?
  • True or false? Hunger affects the young and old, men and women, boys and girls equally.
  • True or false? Droughts, floods and other catastrophic disasters beyond human control cause famine.

Runcie also invited organizations focused on local and global hunger to share with the students. We ended the evening with a brief Bible study and prayer for the world’s most vulnerable people.

Hunger Banquet participants receive one of three meals, depending on their randomly assigned class. From left to right: poor, middle class, and rich.

Hunger Banquet participants receive one of three meals, depending on their randomly assigned class. From left to right: poor, middle class and rich.

What You’ll Need for Your Banquet

A banquet takes only 90 minutes for a meal and discussion at lunch or dinnertime. Preparation is simple. Food for the Hungry (FH) provides detailed instructions, including handouts. And because only 10 percent of the attendees are eating what most of us would consider a full meal, food preparation is simple and inexpensive.

For the full list of materials and preparation tips, download our free Hunger Banquet guide.

The Hunger Banquet® is a registered service mark of Oxfam-America, Inc. ( and is used herein by permission of the service mark owner. ©2002 Oxfam-America. Inc. All Rights Reserved.