Life can change in a minute, leaving you and your family so impoverished you don’t know where your next meal will come from. That was one of several lessons felt at the USF Health Hunger Luncheon, held Oct. 28 in The WELL.
The event is modeled after Oxfam America’s Hunger Banquet campaign to raise awareness of how hunger and poverty affects families across the world.
At USF Health, guests were greeted with a card that put them into one of three stratum: high income with a set table of a three-course meal, middle income with chairs and a meal of beans and rice, or low income with a meal of only rice while seated on the floor. The forced division helped illustrate the lack of control most people have for the conditions in which they live.
Scenarios were recited that caused some participants from one group to be moved to the next, going quickly from sitting comfortably to being uncomfortably hungry.
–Unable to prove land ownership, a middle-class family in eastern Senegal loses their farm when their government gives it to a company intending to mine gold, thus causing the family to move to the low-come group.
–Four people from El Salvador who are seamstresses won a bid to make uniforms for schools in their district and were able to borrow money from a charitable lending program to begin production. The effort lifted them from the low-income group to the middle-income group.
Those stories and more, along with startling statistics about global hunger, challenged the group to think about what it means to be hungry and showed the unpredictable impact weather, politics and access to resources has on the day-to-day need for food.
“Today is about reflection,” said Caitlin Wolf, assistant director of USF Health Shared Student Services in The WELL and one of the coordinators of the Hunger Luncheon. “We are here today because more than 2.5 billion people live in poverty. Nearly 870 million people suffer from chronic hunger. A child dies from malnutrition or a preventable disease every nine seconds.”
“Hunger is the number one health problem in the world, greater than infectious disease,” said Lauri Wright, Phd, RD, assistant professor in the Department of Community and Family Health in the USF College of Public Health. “Hunger is not just an international problem, but a problem right here in the United States, in our own backyard.”
And it’s not just adults.
“One in six children and one in three senior citizens don’t have a consistent or adequate food supply, an experience called food insecurity,” Dr. Wright said.
Dining together, yet worlds and socio-economic classes apart, participants gained a stronger understanding for how food and other resources are unevenly distributed in the world.
The Hunger Luncheon also kicked off the USF Health food drive that will collect canned and non-perishable goods over the next few weeks to be donated to local charities. To help boost involvement, the effort was turned into a competition among the USF Health schools and colleges. Look for boxes throughout USF Health and make a donation.
To learn more about the food drive, contact Ellen Kent, MPH, CPH, coordinator of the USF Health Service Corps, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 974-6622.
Written by Sarah Worth and photos by Eric Younghans, USF Health Office of Communications. Reposted from USF Health News