Students learn how it feels to be in poverty at Hunger Banquet

Written by: 
Eric Hachenberger

“We have everything in this world right now – money, technology, resources – to eradicate poverty,” said Professor Chad Ford, Director of the David O. Mckay Center.

Over 70 students and faculty came together to participate in a Hunger Banquet on Tuesday, March 29. It was hosted the McKay Center and advocacy organization ONE in order to raise awareness of poverty throughout the world.

The attendants were split into groups representing rich, middle class, and poor. A handful of people were “rich” and had a dinner of burgers from 7Brothers. A bit less than half of the attendants were classified as middle class and received rice with beans. The rest, which were the majority, sat on the floor and received a flavorless handful of rice after the other two groups got their food.

“In ONE we work to end extreme poverty,” said BYU-Hawaii ONE president Rebecca Vigoren, a senior from Washington majoring in international cultural studies. People most affected are in places ravaged by war, heartache, and violence, she said.

“I don’t like the hunger banquets very much,” said Professor Chad Ford in his concluding speech. “You come here and learn something about poverty but then you go back and do what you have always done. A lot of what we say has no impact on this global issue.”

Ford said many students feel as if they were among the poor as well, but the very aspect that they are able to get and education is evidence of them coming from the rich part of the world. “One of the biggest problems we have in childhood poverty is the refusal to acknowledge that we are rich,” he said.

He continued, “What it means to be rich is that I have more than I need, not necessarily more than I want, though. In the Old Testament alone there are 600 references to taking care of the poor. Joseph Smith saw it as a huge part of his mission to establish a system to eradicate poverty. Every blessing we have received in material things comes from the Lord. It is his.”

“I can’t think of anything more hellish than coming back one day to the friends to whom we promised to help and realize we kept our abundance and didn’t share with them,” said Ford.

ONE’s objective is to challenge all first world countries to give 0.7 percent of their gross national product to humanitarian aid. Ford said, “If they would just follow through with that, we would end extreme poverty right now.”

Ford concluded his speech, “One way we establish peace and Zion is to eradicate poverty. We have everything in this world right now, money, technology, resources to eradicate poverty. But we lack the will. We are selfish.”