HARRISONBURG, Va., Nov. 20, 2012 – On Tuesday, Nov. 6, the James Madison softball team attended the Community Service-Learning Hunger Banquet on campus in a team-wide community service project.
The banquet was put on by Oxfam, an international non-governmental organization dedicated to eliminating hunger and poverty throughout the world. The intent of the Hunger Banquet is to increase people’s awareness of the extent of economic and nutritional disparities that exist locally and internationally through an experience exercise.
There was a request for a donation of $2 or two cans, but the 19 members of the JMU softball team combined to donate 199 cans to the banquet.
As part of the project, the JMU coaching staff asked members of the team to write a short essay on what they got out of participating in the Hunger Banquet. Senior outfielder Jasmine Butler (Winter Garden, Fla./West Orange) and sophomore pitcher Heather Kiefer (Potomac Falls, Va./Potomac Falls) each describe the experience below.
In Their Own Words – Jasmine Butler
Last Tuesday November 6th, the JMU Dukes softball team attended Community Service-Learning’s (CSL) Annual Hunger Banquet. The Hunger Banquet is a simulation that provides attendees with the chance to experience first-hand what it’s like to go hungry. The banquet gave students a way to see how the world eats and experience some of the nutritional disparities that a large portion of the world experiences. In the simulation the team sat on the floor and watched as people, sitting at two tables, were served a three course meal. This small portion of people represent the few internationally who are blessed enough to have access to food whenever they want it. While the second-largest group who sat in chairs were able to get up and serve themselves rice, beans and water. Lastly, the largest group, which represented the majority of third world countries, sat on the floor and had access to “dirty water” and a little bit of rice.
The JMU softball team was placed in this group in which a good portion of the people classified here were left without food, which is a reality for millions who starve daily. The softball team was inspired by great speakers and learned the extent to which economic and nutrition disparities occur locally and internationally. The Dukes were able to give back to the Harrisonburg community by donating 199 cans of food to the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank. CSL’s Annual Hunger Banquet was an eye-opening event for the team and provided the ladies with a newfound awareness.
In Their Own Words – Heather Kiefer
Previous to CSL’s Hunger Banquet, I had taken part in various community service events but none as eye opening as this one. Our team was told that we each needed to bring a minimum of two cans in order to enter the event. We went above and beyond by contributing 199 cans. Upon entering the ballroom, we noticed that there were a handful of people sitting at nicely set tables, some people sitting in chairs, and a lot of people sitting around on the floor. We handed all of our cans to the girl working the door. She looked at us and said “you are in the third class. Please find a seat on the floor.” Somewhat confused, we walked into the ballroom and assumed our seats on the floor.
When the banquet started, the speaker told us that we had been divided into realistic proportions of hungry people around the world. The people sitting at the tables were considered the first class. Those who were in the chairs were the second class. The rest of us, sitting on the floor made up the third class. Next came dinner.
Fancy looking waiters with shiny silver trays walked into the room. They gracefully served the world’s first class citizens a well-rounded meal. From what we could see on the floor, they had a nice big piece of meat, potatoes, a vegetable, and cheesecake. Next, there was a buffet set up at the edge of the room. The world’s second-class citizens were instructed to serve themselves however much they desired. The rest of us in the third class were told that we could have whatever the second class didn’t eat. It was clear that there was not enough food for everyone. Complimentary with our lack of food was muggy, yet completely sanitary for the sake of the exercise, water.
The speaker told us that this was realistic of the world. While some enjoy dinner literally fed to them from a silver platter, others are forced to go without. This really opened up my eyes to the class proportions around the world. The number of people in the Harrisonburg area who are considered “hungry” also shocked me. Sure you hear about the starving children in Africa, but you don’t realize that could be the person walking next to you to class. Hunger is everywhere and this experience really helped me realize this. I’m glad that my team could be involved in this activity and have the opportunity to give back to the community.
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