On Thursday, November 15, I attended the Oxfam Hunger banquet at ASU’s Polytechnic campus. It was an amazing event to raise awareness for world hunger, and more importantly, to create a dialogue about the problem. It’s one thing to be aware of hunger, but another entirely to live it, and to begin understand it. Before last Thursday night I was aware of this problem, but I had never heard a story of hunger from someone who had actually lived through the experience of food insecurity.
Many powerful stories were told that night, but I would like to share three that have really resonated with me.
The first story is about a woman, who, as a young girl was asked by her mother to walk with her little brother to the grocery store to purchase food “on credit.” There wasn’t much money for groceries in their budget, and her mother thought it would be harder for the shopkeeper to say no to little kids. After a while, the shopkeeper learned to say no to little kids, and the family went hungry.
Another story is about a man who used to live out of his car. He had three dogs, and there were weeks where he only had enough money either himself or his animals. He made sure that dogs always had enough to eat, but as a result he would sometimes be forced to go up to a week surviving on only bread and water.
The final story is about a veteran who was once stationed in a village in the middle east. Food and water would arrive in trucks on a regular basis. But the trucks carrying food resembled the trucks carrying weapons, and for awhile no trucks got though roads. For 11 days soldiers and villagers had to survive, not knowing when the next convoy of food would come in. For the first 9 days, soldiers shared their rations with the whole village. On the 10th day, when the rations ran out, the villagers shared what they had left with the soldiers.
When you entered the Oxfam hunger banquet you were given a card. 15% of the individuals were given a full dinner: pasta, salad, and a roll. 35% of attendees received a plate with just rice and beans. The remaining 50% received just a small bowl of rice. This division reflects the global division of food security. After a discussion on the food inequity represented on our plates, the moderator took a plate of pasta, salad and bread and handed it to someone who only received rice for dinner. She tore a piece off the roll and passed the plate. He took a bite of pasta, the next girl had some salad and the plate kept going and going until it had reached everyone in the room. Like the soldiers in the middle east, the man and his dogs, everyone in the room shared what little they had.
So, why don’t we give, why don’t we share? Not just in November and December, but why don’t we share what we have every week, every month, whenever there is a need?
This question was posed to the audience at Oxfam.
One person replied, “Because we’re selfish.” I respectfully disagree.
I think it’s because no one asks, or when they do, as is the case of the man with the carboard sign on the corner, we think twice. Not because we lack compassion or generosity, but because we want to know that when we give, there will be good that comes of it.
We’re FlashFood, and we’re asking. Asking ourselves and our community to stand against hunger, to share what we have with those who need it most.