Of 100 dinners at a campus banquet Wednesday, less than 20 left the dinner feeling satisfied.
At the Hunger Banquet, participants were randomly assigned to one of four social classes and received a meal that represented their assigned socio-economic standing. Four attendees were designated as upper-class, 11 as upper middle class, 28 as lower-middle class and 57 as lower class.
“These numbers represent the actual economic realities of today’s world,” political science senior Tyler Bolender said. “The dinner is a simulation that represents the inequality of the world’s food supply.”
Waiters seated the participants that represented the upper class at a linen-covered table complete with candlelight and crystal. Their table was guarded by students wearing camouflage military garb portraying the protection this portion of society is afforded.
Waiters served the smallest group a steak dinner with soup, salad, roasted red potatoes and dessert.
The 11 percent of the room designated as upper-middle class served themselves from a buffet stocked with hamburgers, garden burgers and French fries. They ate with plasticware at an institutional style table.
“The upper-middle class consume 70 percent of the world’s grain,” political science senior Jennifer Floyd said. “Overall, they live in a pleasant secure world.”
The participants designated as lower middle class, served themselves from a buffet that included tortillas, beans and rice. The students sat in chairs, but were not provided tables.
“This segment of society lives on the edge,” Floyd said. “They often live as day laborers and only some are able to attend school.”
The largest group, representing 57 percent of society, were provided with a piece of cardboard to sit on the floor with. Their meal consisted of a small bowl of white rice.
“For the lower class, every day is a struggle to find food, water and shelter,” Bolender said. “Many are frequently hungry and school is a luxury few in this group can hope to enjoy.”
The event was sponsored by Student Community Services, International Programs and Student World Assembly as part of International Education Week. Campus Dining donated the food and Student Community Services paid for the room. All proceeds from the event were donated to the San Luis Obispo County Food Bank and Doctors Without Borders.