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Morning Sun
  • Hungry to learn

  • Experiencing the breakdown of socioeconomic situations in America firsthand made an impression on Pittsburg State University students who attended a hunger banquet hosted by Alpha Phi Omega and the Residence Hall Assembly.

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  • Experiencing the breakdown of socioeconomic situations in America firsthand made an impression on Pittsburg State University students who attended a hunger banquet hosted by Alpha Phi Omega and the Residence Hall Assembly.
    “A friend of a member showed up at a meeting and said she wanted to do this,” said Alpha Phi Omega President Kelsey Neiger.
    In the exercise, three students represented the 5 percent of Americans considered upper class, and were served large portions of pasta with meat sauce, breadsticks and a side salad on the president’s china. Others, representing the 40 percent of Americans in the middle class, were served their pasta, plain sauce and breadsticks buffet-style on plastic plates.
    The remaining 55 percent sat on the floor and were served small portions of sauceless pasta after everyone else had been served.
    As they ate, Alpha Phi Omega Membership Chair Ashley Fann shared hunger and poverty statistics, including some from Wesley House, which was a beneficiary of the event.
    “Based on a six-month average, the Wesley House has 2,300 people per
    month using their services,” she said.
    She also talked about the numbers of children nationwide and globally who experience poverty, food insecurity or starvation.
    Participants in the event then had the opportunity to share their experience - beginning with the upper class.
    “It’s very awkward,” Sophomore Mary Lipp said as she looked at the large amount of food remaining on her plate. “It’s so much more than I need.”
    “I’ll definitely stop taking for granted what I have and the amount of food I eat and waste,” Senior Jeremy Elsworth said.
    Senior Lindsey Greve said her middle-class experience was a study in perspective.
    “It’s a smaller portion than the high class, but seeing the low class makes you grateful for what you have,” she said.
    Junior Brittnay Horn said it was uncomfortable to be in the lower class and eating on the floor while one of her good friends ate an upper-class meal.
    “It was kind of weird and awkward, because she was all high-and-mighty and I’m stuck on the floor,” Horn said.
    However, Horn and others in the low class said they felt gratitude even as they ate their plain pasta while watching a slideshow depicting global hunger, which ran throughout the meal.
    “Seeing the kids on the screen - they would love to have what I had,” Senior Ryan Million said. “It was eye-opening. I didn’t realize that the situation was that bad.”
    The format of the banquet comes from the organization Oxfam, and students who left with a desire to do something about their experience were given information on some of the ways they can help through Oxfam or other organizations.
    Page 2 of 2 - Participants also gained admission to the event by either paying $1, which will be split between Oxfam and Wesley House, or bringing a canned good for Wesley House.  About 80 servings of food were left over, and Fann said those will be donated to the local homeless shelter.
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