Dinner draws poverty line

By Allison Alvey

There are roughly 6.6 billion people in the world and millions suffer from chronic hunger every day. On Monday night, the UK Honors Program tried to teach its students first-hand what that was like for one evening.

The World Food Issues Honors Track Dinner provided students in the world food issues class with a real-life example of how the world’s wealth and food is divided.

Each student randomly drew a piece of paper that gave them a personal story of someone in the socio-economic class in which they were assigned. The wealthy, upper class got to sit at a table and eat fast food and drink sodas. The middle class sat in chairs with no table and were given medium amounts of food. The lower class had to sit on the floor and were given only a half cup of rice.

Before being assigned her social status, Kimber Guinn, an agricultural biotechnology freshman, said no matter what class she was put in, she hoped to gain something from the experience.

“I’ll probably take away an empty stomach if I don’t get my food, but other than that, a better understanding of world food issues,” she said. “I hope to get a better idea of how people across the world eat.”

Jake Rigdon, a biology freshman, was one of the students assigned to represent the upper class. Rigdon said the dinner made an impact on how he viewed the disparities between the amounts of food people across the world have.

“It gives you guilt knowing you live as one of the wealthy people, when you look at the people on the floor knowing those people are going to be eating rice,” he said.

A lesson Rigdon said he took away from the dinner was one of gratitude for what he had.

“The majority of people across the world have not been blessed with what we’ve been blessed with,” he said. “It’s opened my eyes more to the problem.”

Jennifer Chadwick, an architecture freshman, was assigned to represent the lower class. She said she learned that poverty is not as easily defined as she once thought.

“Third World countries aren’t the only ones who have food problems, the middle class has food problems too,” Chadwick said. “It reinforces my view on poverty, and I realize I take things for granted a lot of the time.”

Todd Pfeiffer, a professor in the department of plant and soil sciences, is in his fourth year of participating in the event.

Pfeiffer said it is important for students to attend this dinner because it gives them a chance to emotionally relate to those who go hungry.

“We’re trying to make them feel something and make an emotional connection to world food issues,” he said.

“Students haven’t yet come to realize the statistics and when they see how many students are poor versus rich they will realize more.”