The topic of hunger insecurity and poverty both nationally and locally will be up for discussion at the University Board’s Appetite for Equality Oxfam Hunger Banquet.
Class is in session, but instead of a lecture, dinner will be served 6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 30, in the Grand Ballroom of the Martin Luther King Jr. University Union.
Chanel Belton, the UB’s ideas and issues coordinator, challenged herself with the task of informing people about hunger and poverty. The event is a week after Thanksgiving and Belton said she hopes that timeliness helps students to remember to be giving and thankful.
Belton said she tried to stir up conversation about the hot topics on campus through something other than a forum or a lecture. She said she wants the banquet to be positive and informative.
Civic activism is not a new concept for Belton, as she said feeding the homeless has been a tradition for her since she was 13 years old. It all started as a mandatory tradition with her family, but as she witnessed gratitude from those being served, Belton has spent early mornings to late afternoons at food centers lending a hand.
“When you do it and see how happy it makes people, it brings a good feeling,” Belton said. “We don’t know what people go through.”
Belton said she hopes to create a real world event. At the banquet people will be eating according to their assigned economic class. She said people would have to come and immerse themselves in the experience and it will in turn open their eyes.
Students are not as involved in civic activism, Belton said, but it might take a leader to break them out of their habits.
Belton invited President David Glassman and Mayor Brandon Combs to the banquet and said if they attend it will help show a range of different economic classes during the banquet. She has planned for 150 people to be in attendance.
Ceci Brinker, the director of student life, said she is pleased that the UB is expanding the programming to include more dialogue about ways students can be civically active and socially aware.
“(Belton) is reaching out above and beyond to the critical issues that go on campus, in our community and even our country,” Brinker said. “(Belton) is trying to expand student’s horizons to include more by educating them more about social needs with not only the impact that it has around them, but the impact it should have on them.
An event like this is eye opening in that it helps students focus on things that are not often brought to their attention, Brinker said.
She said the Eastern community is so focused on being here that sometimes they need that extra push to alert themselves on what goes on outside of the college world.
Even at Eastern students, staff and community members might need help even if they do not show it, Brinker said.
“We need to understand that food is not a luxury to other people,” Brinker said.
During the banquet Belton asks for people to bring in canned goods and doors open at 5:30 p.m.
T’Nerra Butler can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]