The Universities at Shady Grove’s (USG) Annual Hunger Banquet took place on November 13, 2017 with the assistance of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) Campus Kitchens Project, Chef Susan Callahan, Student Council, Graduate Student Association, Office of Student Services, and several volunteers. The Hunger Banquet did an excellent job showcasing the harsh reality of what it is like living below the poverty line.
Students were given a small piece of paper and assigned a role. Students were divided into three classes: upper, medium, and lower. It was quite alarming how this event depicts many people are unsure where their next meal will come from. It was also discouraging to see the large discrepancy of incomes levels. One observation I made included the upper and medium income participants were more likely to engage in the conversations during the questions and answers session. Despite the silence of the lower income participants, their facial expressions revealed sadness and disbelief. Though they were large in numbers many of them felt their voices did not matter.
I had a positive first experience of attending The Hunger Banquet. As a student, I was unaware of how active the UMES students are within the community. Campus Kitchens Project does a phenomenal job in providing food to impoverished families within Montgomery County. I had the pleasure of assisting in the preparation of the meals, setup, and organization for the Hunger Banquet as a member of the USG Student Council. I also served as an MC so I was able to see the students’ interactions based on the income level they were assigned. The students actively witnessed hunger and how it can affect anyone. The students watched a video where a university graduate was living under poverty lines. She was unable to feed herself without government issued food stamps. The Hunger Banquet revealed how many people are one paycheck away from poverty. The guest speaker Jenna Umriac, Director of Programs and Policies at Manna Food Center in Gaithersburg, Maryland shed light on how we can find solutions to the hunger epidemic in Montgomery County and other regions too.
Conversations from USG’s Annual Hunger Banquet are needed in order to end the hunger epidemic in Montgomery County and all over the world. The Hunger Banquet is a vital event, it not only raises awareness but it also offers solutions. I want to thank UMES Campus Kitchens Project, Chef Susan Callahan, Student Council, Graduate Student Association, Office of Student Services, volunteers, and all of the attendees for their involvement of the 2017 Hunger Banquet! Your help is highly appreciated and needed.