Rollins Hosts 4th Annual Hunger Banquet

March 19, 2010

On March 2, the Office of Community Engagement, in partnership with Join Us in Making Progress (JUMP), hosted the 4th Annual Hunger Banquet benefiting the Coalition of the Homeless of Central Florida and Orlando’s Christian Service Center.

Attendees of the event, held in the Galloway Room, included faculty, staff and students enthusiastic about participating in the banquet’s interactive theme of hunger, homelessness and poverty around the world.

 “It is important to look at the role of colleges in the community,” said Rollins College Dean of Faculty Laurie Joyner.  “I am proud of the Rollins mission, which is deeply committed to life-long service and helping. With privilege comes tremendous responsibility; we should not fall short of trying to change the world.”

Hunger banquets are typically coordinated at colleges and universities across the country in an effort to bring awareness on campus and provide education about homelessness, hunger and poverty as a major worldwide issue faced today. The objective of this event is to simulate the reality of social injustice and unequal food distribution in the world by assigning guests to a specific labeled class system as they arrive, separating their seating assignments to demonstrate social inequality, and then feeding unequal meals according to this social structure. 60 percent of those in attendance were labeled as “lower class,” were seated in a confined area of floor space, and provided a limited amount of bread and water to share as their meal. 15 percent of the banquet guests were provided seating at decorated tables while they enjoyed a three-course meal, demonstrating the “upper class” population of the world. The contrast of social classes was an effective simulation as students who acted as the lower class ate their sparse meals in disbelief of the lavish meals being served to the upper class participant’s tables only steps away.

The realities of this exercise are all too familiar to millions of people around the world. For the 60 percent of the world’s inhabitants affected by poverty, homelessness and/or hunger, providing adequate basic needs for themselves and their families is an everyday challenge.

Speakers at the event included Chris Goyzouta, executive director and founder of Rock for Hunger, Shanta Barton-Stubbs, executive director of New Image Youth Center and Robert Stuart, executive director of the Christian Service Center.

Goyzouta spoke directly to students, urging them to use their strengths, using his love of music as an example, to make a difference in the lives of others. Rock for Hunger continues to organize food drives and local concerts in an effort to raise awareness in Orlando. Barton-Stubbs spoke about her unique experience in founding a youth center at the First Baptist Church in downtown Orlando’s Parramore neighborhood. She sympathized with those who feel uninspired to face issues in the community, mentioning that she was once one of them, yet realized “…sometimes we have to step out of our little box.”

Executive Director of the Christian Service Center Robert Stuart spoke informatively about the problem of homelessness in Orlando. He alluded to the growing issue, explaining that for the first time, the ratio of homelessness to current Orlando residents is on par with the national average of homelessness to American citizen ratio. In addition, an estimated 2,200 people will be homeless in downtown Orlando on any given night. The Christian Center Service works to benefit homeless people, providing assistance for the next level of support.

AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer in the Office of Community Engagement and Hunger Banquet co-chair Gabe Anderson believes in the positive impact of this event on the lives of students.

“Hunger Banquet is a great interactive opportunity for students to learn about poverty and hunger here in Orlando and abroad. In addition, they learn what they can do to alleviate these problems, especially given the current economic condition.”

~Stephanie Posner (Class of 2011)

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