DWU students catch glimpse of hunger during dinner
Thursday, November 7, 2013 Students at Dakota Wesleyan University got a small glimpse of how the other half lives during dinner at the cafeteria.
DWU students arrived at the cafeteria on Wednesday night and were greeted by students from the Leadership and Public Service class. Each student received a piece of paper, indicating whether they would get a delicious chicken cordon bleu meal, with typical portions of a First-World country, or whether they would get Third-World portioned fish, rice and water.
“Only 15 percent or so of the participants received the chicken dinner and those who were given the fish and rice were also not allowed to use utensils, but could use pieces of lettuce to scoop their food,” said Breanna Clark, DWU senior and team leader of the class that conducted the project.
Clark partnered with other students to give a small portion of the campus an insight into the lives of millions of others who would consider fish and rice a welcome alternative to their current circumstances of starvation or severe hunger.
During the meal, there were presentations about world hunger and speakers who have experienced or witnessed hunger before. About 180 students and coaches were in attendance and most were kept in the dark about what was planned until they got there.
“The initial reaction from many of the students was anger,” Clark said. “They did not like the idea of only having fish, rice and lettuce to eat. They seemed jealous of their friends that had the First-World meal and were anxious for the chance to get more food. There were mixed reactions from those with the First-World meal. Many were happy and relieved but others felt guilty sitting next to their friends who had less.”
Clark said that by the end, people seemed to understand the reasoning behind the project and paid attention to the presentations.
Clark has been on multiple mission and educational trips around the world – from the poorest areas of Peru to Africa – and is a member of the student club Universities Fighting World Hunger.
“I hoped to connect students to the realities of hunger around the world,” Clark said. “I was hoping that students would be able to see that there is more to hunger than just being hungry and that there are people who would give anything to have fish and rice – foods that we, as people with an abundance of food, would turn down and throw away.”
The idea to use the cafeteria was a reinvention of a Hunger Banquet held on campus several years ago as part of a McGovern Conference. Clark attended and thought that it was a unique experience and decided to make her class project a tribute to that.
The leadership and public service class has also hosted a golf tournament as a fundraiser for two local cancer support groups, is planning an art auction next week for the Abbott House, and is in works to help set the foundation for a school in Africa. This course is taught and advised by Dr. Alisha Vincent, director of the McGovern Center at DWU.