Feast or Famine: Oxfam Banquet Addresses Social Justice

Designed to feed the mind more than the belly, the Dec. 6 Oxfam Hunger Banquet at Harvey Mudd College is intended to raise participants’ awareness of world poverty and hunger, and will invite them to discuss potential solutions.

Sponsored by student clubs Mudders Making a Difference, Harvey Mudd Baking Club and CheeseSHMC, the event is the first Oxfam Banquet to be held at the College. About 50 students, staff and faculty are expected to attend.

“This will be an opportunity to experience a different reality for one meal. Although we are all aware that hunger exists in the world, it can be easy to forget what that really means,” said Carolina Reyes ’14, lead coordinator for the event. “It will help bring up questions about how science and technology affect social injustice and hunger.”

Guests will be assigned character cards that designate where they sit—low, medium or high-income tables—what utensils will be available and what food they will have to eat. Those at low-income tables can expect a bowl of steamed rice. High-income table participants will receive a feast of chicken picatta, rice pilaf, vegetables, salad and dessert.

Before the meals are served, interactive scenarios will be presented that affect members at each table. “One family may be affected by a flood and have to move from their middle-income seats to a low-income table. Someone with a low-income character card may get the opportunity to become educated and move to the middle-income table,” Reyes said.

Following the scenarios, participants will eat their meal and discuss their experience, along with possible actions they could take to combat poverty and social injustice. They will also have an opportunity to make a donation to Oxfam America.

Oxfam America, which offers toolkits to help communities host Oxfam Banquets, strives to end poverty, hunger and injustice by working with local communities to create long-lasting solutions. The students’ collaboration with Oxfam is synonymous with the Harvey Mudd College mission: educating the next generation of STEM leaders to have a clear understanding of their impact on society.