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Feeling the pangs of hunger

Lindsay Buss, a sophomore at Misericordia University, shares her dinner with Kristin Manes during a Hunger Banquet presented by Campus Ministries at Misericordia University.

Charlotte Bartizek photos/ For The Dallas Post

Lisa Zator, of Olyphant, was lucky during a Hunger Banquet at Misericordia University. She drew a ticket allowing her to sit at the weathiest table at the banquet.

Ashleigh Ramsey, of Athens, didn’t get much to eat at a Hunger Banquet presented by campus ministries at Misericordia University.

Although she hadn’t eaten dinner, Lindsay Buss gave up her entire plate of chicken and pasta to those with only rice and bread.

The Misericordia University student felt compelled to share with her “low income” peers on Monday, Nov. 17, during the Fifth Annual Hunger Banquet in the Kennedy Room of the Banks Student Center at the university. The banquet is held by Misericordia’s Social Justice Committee and led by Christine Somers, director of campus ministry.

Participants in the banquet were divided into the three income groups and served food that a person in their bracket likely eats. The theme of the program this year was the effects of climate change on food in the world.

“I felt bad,” said Buss, who was placed in the high-income group. “They deserve it just as much as I do.”

Jen Lozier, who was in the low-income group, accepted some noodles from Buss.

“I feel bad because most of us Americans live in the upper class,” Lozier said. “It’s nice that they’re all coming around and offering us food.”

Fifty-four people, mainly students, signed up to participate in the banquet. On the way in, each person was handed a yellow, orange or blue ticket with a scenario and was directed to the income group represented by the color of his or her ticket.

Fifteen percent of the participants were placed among the high-income group, 35 percent in the middle-income group and 50 percent in the low-income group as representative of the percentages of people in the income groups worldwide.

Those in the high-income group were seated at an elegant table and served iced tea, salad, chicken, pasta and cheesecake. Reverend Don Williams, chaplain and associate director of campus ministry at Misericordia University, acted as their waiter.

The middle-income group sat at tables with no tablecloths and had hot dogs, chips and iced tea. At one point, Williams took a jug of iced tea from the table, saying the others in the high-income group were running low.

“Oh my God,” responded Kelly Ann Byrne, who was shocked Williams gave their beverage to the “wealthy.”

Everyone in the low-income group was forced to sit on the floor. They were given a small amount of white rice, a piece of pita bread and water.

Not all of the students in the upper-income categories shared out of guilt. One said he gave up his salad because he doesn’t like salad while another said she ate before the banquet.

After eating, participants were asked how they felt. Common feelings experienced were jealousy, hunger, thankfulness, unfortunate, guilt and sadness.

Sister Jean Messaros has attended several hunger banquets and, for the first time at this banquet, she was put in the middle-income group. But during the program, Messaros was one of six people in the bracket asked to move to the low-income group because of recent financial difficulties.

“When I was asked to sit on the floor because of my circumstances, it made me think that is what is happening now,” Messaros said of the current state of the economy.

The hunger banquet at Misericordia is part of the university’s observance of National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week from November 16 through November 22. On Thursday, Nov. 20, students were scheduled to weigh leftover food waste in the cafeteria from Tuesday and Wednesday as a means of gaining awareness of how much food they throw away.

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