Oxfam Hunger Banquet sheds light on poverty


Christy Ma

Junior Chris Guerra serves banquet attendees seated at prepared tables, symbolizing the upper class. Photo by Kevin Trejos

Hunger around the world is a prevalent issue around the world. The DECA chapter at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School decided to reach out to the less fortunate in the community by organizing an event that served food, with social hierarchy in mind. The Oxfam Hunger Banquet was held in the MSD cafeteria on Feb. 10, 2017 from 3-5 p.m

“Two of Project Giveaway’s main goals were to create accessible ways of giving back to the community and to combat homelessness, hunger and poverty, which many times are correlated,” DECA officer Carmen Lo said. “We chose the Broward Outreach center which is a mere 20 minutes away and serves over 220 of our local homeless.”

Lo and DECA’s executive vice president Ariana Ortega were inspired by Oxfam America to host the Oxfam Hunger Banquet at MSD because the program shared their objective of combating hunger and poverty.

“[The Oxfam Hunger Banquet] works as an eye-opening presentation since participants are actually put into a stimulation,” Lo said.

Senior Anthony Rilling eats rice while seated on the floor to represent the lower class and social inequalities between the wealthy and the poor. Photo by Kevin Trejos

Most of the arrangements of the event were planned by Ortega and Lo, but with the help of DECA teacher Sharon Cutler and Mitchell Albert, the event was able to sell almost 100 tickets in less than two weeks time. Certain MSD teachers even offered extra credit to attendees. The club was able to raise over $1,000 with the help of DECA officers and teachers, who helped in the flow of the event.

“By talking to our local businesses, we were able to have food donated to our event. Many of the ideas we had were suggestions from the Oxfam American Hunger Banquet Toolkit,” Lo said.

Unlike most events where a person pays money to receive quality service and food, randomized groups of people were seated at nicer tables and chairs while others were seated on the floor to represent modern American socioeconomic inequalities.

Those seated at tables with nice decor and tablecloth had volunteer waiters and waitresses who served food on elegant plates while those seated on the tarp of the cafeteria floor received rice in cups.

The unique arrangement raised awareness of the living conditions and inequality prevalent in society, including nearby communities.

“I was very surprised to see the statistics of poverty and how common it is,” junior Chantal Chalita said. “[The Oxfam Hunger Banquet] made me feel more compassionate towards the poor because it made me realize that everyone has a story and you can’t just judge them by how they look or what you believe to be their current situation.”

The proceeds received from this event will go directly to Feeding Florida, the state’s food bank network that provides and supports individuals and families across the state through distribution of food. Feeding Florida provides food for 3.3 million Floridians each year, including 1.1 million children and 700,000 seniors.

The MSD DECA community service chapter project, Project Giveaway, will continue to provide events like the Oxfam Hunger Banquet that students can participate in throughout the year.