Over seventy people attended the Hunger Banquet last Sunday, sponsored by the youth of the church. Upon arrival, guests drew tickets at random to assign them to a First World (10% of the guests), Second World (30%) or Third World (60%) income tier based on the latest statistics about the number of people living in poverty. Guests were seated in different areas of the room and received a meal corresponding to their income level.
Waiters Nick and Oliver served our 7 First World guests a scrumptious meal of large portions including pork, potatoes, carrots, green beans, dinner rolls, sparkling juice, and dessert. Guests sat on the Stage at a beautifully decorated table including stemware and a tablecloth.
Meanwhile, those in the Second World sat on chairs and helped themselves to a half cup serving of rice and beans, and water.
Finally, our Third World guests were invited to sit on the floor and eat out of a communal bowl of rice. Guests needed to draw their own water from a well in an adjacent room.
While guests dined, guest speakers talked about their perspectives on hunger and poverty. Tracie Longman, Executive Director of the Newton Food Pantry, talked about food insecurity right here in Newton and the great need for personal hygiene items that government assistance does not cover. Priscilla Kelso spoke about growing up in the Philippines after World War II, the great sacrifices made by hardworking women like her mother and grandmother to feed their children, and the vital, personal impact on her of being able to receive UNICEF milk. With a joyful spirit of gratitude to God for her abundant life, Jandi Dennis talked about her childhood of food insecurity in Liberia, the two meals a day she received at a mission school, and the fact she really did sit on the ground around a communal bowl, just like our Third World guests at the banquet. In addition Cate Brown and Aden O’Beirne talked about what they learned about hunger on their recent mission trip to Nicaragua with the church.
After dinner, guests broke up into discussion groups to share their thoughts and feelings about the experience, and to brainstorm ways to fight hunger.
The Youth who sponsored the event suggested these next steps:
- Be thankful for the abundance of food we have.
- Consider how we might change our eating patterns. By eating lower on the food chain, we protect the environment and free up resources for others.
- Stay informed about hunger, poverty and their root causes.
- Be an advocate for change.
These organizations and events can help:
Project Bread’s Walk for Hunger, May 4. Projectbread.org/walk
Heifer International (heifer.org): ‘Passing on the gift’ where a family is given livestock, trained in its care, and passes on the first female offspring to another family.
Oxfam America (oxfamamerica.org): Ending poverty and injustice through education, advocacy, and development work.
Bread for the World (bread.org): a Christian advocacy group urging our nation’s leaders to end hunger at home and abroad.
In addition the Mission Committee invites those interested in further exploring what the Union Church in Waban can do to help fight hunger to join us on Wednesday, May 7th at 6:30 p.m. in the reception room, where we will continue our Lenten conversation on hunger and justice.