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MerServe and QuadWorks to host simulation to raise awareness about hunger and wealth inequality

<p>Students participate in the Oxfam Hunger Banquet held in 2019. Image provided by McKenna Kaufman.</p>

Students participate in the Oxfam Hunger Banquet held in 2019. Image provided by McKenna Kaufman.

MerServe and QuadWorks are co-hosting a banquet simulation Friday to raise awareness about hunger, poverty and food insecurity on a global scale.

Attending students are randomly assigned to one of three socioeconomic classes, high, medium or low income, which will dictate their dining experience during the event. Along with the meal, local activist Andrea Cooke, who works with the Napier Heights Food Co-Op, will also give a talk alongside MerServe and QuadWorks members about food insecurity and poverty.

“Depending on their assignment, students will receive a dining experience that corresponds with the day-to-day meals and environments different communities experience,” McKenna Kaufman, a hunger and homelessness service coordinator for MerServe, said.

Folajuwon Samo from QuadWorks said that the event was simulating poverty and hunger on a global level.

“Those of low income will receive rice and water for dinner, middle income will receive rice, beans and water, and high income will receive a full course meal, with pasta, dessert and drink,” Samo said.

Both Kaufman and Samo said that they wanted to educate the Mercer community about the wealth gap and impact food insecurity has, especially as a growing issue.

“Food insecurity and poverty are issues directly affecting the Macon community and the neighborhoods directly surrounding campus,” Kaufman said. “I think events like these are especially important because they equip students with the knowledge and experience they need to affect positive change on a local level.”

QuadWorks’ Leadership, Education, Awareness, and Diversity (LEAD) Committee was initially working on an event for Homelessness Awareness Month, and their advisor recommended that they collaborate with MerServe on an Oxfam Hunger Banquet.

While this event was previously held on campus in 2019, neither Kaufman nor the LEAD committee had ever held it, but both said that they’d been told it had been successful in 2019. The event hasn't changed much from before, but it will take place in Penfield Hall to accommodate as many students as possible while maintaining COVID-19 restrictions.

“The Oxfam Hunger Banquet will encourage impactful conversations about pressing issues facing our world’s communities,” Kaufman said. “We are so excited to raise awareness about food insecurity and the wealth gap so be sure to invite your friends.”

The Oxfam Hunger Banquet will be held Nov. 19 at 5 p.m. in Penfield Hall.

For students interested in similar events, MerServe will be hosting a trip to the Brookdale Resource Center Dec. 3 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., and students can sign up on BearPulse. Kaufman said that the event would be a great way to get involved hands-on in combating poverty on a local level.

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