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Banquet will help raise hunger awareness




Special to The Hays Daily News

To aid in diminishing hunger and to bring hunger awareness to the community, Fort Hays State University's Global Leadership Project will host the third annual Hunger Awareness Banquet at 6 p.m. Sept. 22 in the Robbins Center.

The Hunger Awareness Banquet is used as a fundraiser for the annual SWIPE Out Hunger event, which will be in October.

"We use it to inform others of the poverty not only in Third World countries, but in America itself and even in Hays," said junior Brenna Johnson, co-coordinator for GLP.

The banquet shows students, faculty and community members different levels of income in the world. When attendees arrive, they will receive a card stating their income level, and those cards will correlate with the meal they receive. The cards are determined on the number of attendees and percentages of people living in different incomes.

"If they get a low-income card, they'll receive rice and beans to eat. If they get a middle-income, they'll get pizza, and the higher class will get a nice five-course meal," Johnson said.

Lindsey Mills from the advocacy group Numana also will be at the event to speak about hunger and poverty. The El Dorado-based organization provides the supplies to package meals at the SWIPE event. During SWIPE, students package meals of rice, beans, soy and a nutritional packet, which then are boxed and sent to places such as Haiti and the Horn of Africa, while half of the packaged meals stay at FHSU.

Johnson said one of the main goals is to inform students about local hunger. She said there are 3,000 people who live in poverty in Ellis County, and hunger even can be found on campus.

"A lot of international students come here and, over the breaks, they don't have transportation or food to eat from the dorms, so we have a food pantry that is available for them and any students that are struggling," she said.

The banquet is coordinated by Johnson and sophomore Tre' Giles. Johnson and Giles both said they had seen hunger first-hand and that's what motivated their journey with the Hunger Awareness Banquet and SWIPE.

Tickets to the Hunger Awareness Banquet are $5 and can be purchased by emailing glp@fhsu.edu or calling (785) 628-4497. Tickets also are available the night of the banquet.

"When I'm helping people, helping feed them or pairing international and domestic kids so they can help learn and grow together, it just makes me feel whole," Giles said. "It's easy to stay motivated when you're doing something you're passionate about."

Johnson took a trip to Haiti last summer where she witnessed the reality of hunger in impoverished areas. She said to see people living in poverty compared to how fortunate she and many people in America are was motivating for her.

"I just want to help them in any way I can, and SWIPE's a great way to do that," Johnson said. "Solving hunger is a huge issue, and it will take a long time before we can fully overcome that. For students to get the chance to help out in a little way, I think SWIPE is a great start and a great seed to be planted. I think that will open many doors if they want to continue helping and hopefully get more involved."