Last week, many of our US-based staff at Food for the Hungry (FH) gathered for a Hunger Banquet in our Phoenix, Ariz. office. We spent our lunch hour experiencing a simulation of world hunger.
During a Hunger Banquet, participants are randomly divided into three groups. Ten percent of participants are chosen to represent the wealthy, twenty percent represent the middle class, and seventy percent represent the poor.
The group representing the wealthy is invited to sit at a table where they are provided with linens, cutlery, an adequate meal, and beverages.
The group representing the middle class is provided with a table and individualized portions of rice and beans.
The group representing the poor is seated in the back of the room with trash covering the floor.
This group is provided with a communal pot of rice and beans, with not quite enough food to go around.
They are also given “dirty” water to simulate the lack of an adequate water source.
Our staff were moved by the plight of people living in poverty. We work every day on behalf of the poor, but many of us had never stepped into their shoes.
Participants who were assigned to the wealthy group commented that they felt guilty for being placed in a position of such privilege. Those in the poor group made the best of their situation, but they noticed that they were not treated as well as the upper class. We discussed the reality that although we might never feel that we have enough, most of us actually belong to the richest 10% of the world’s population.
Before heading back to our offices for the rest of the day, we offered opportunities to respond. Some participants decided to sponsor children after the banquet.