Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Hunger Banquet offers unique perspective on global poverty

Many onlookers sat eating a small portion of rice with their hands while a select 15, graced by providence or luck of the draw, dined on a multi-course meal at a table.

The stage was set, as the World Hunger Banquet commenced Monday evening at Burke Dining Hallto demonstrate worldwide suffering based solely on socio-economic status.

“Most of us do not get to choose the circumstances we are born into,” said moderator Frannie James of the University’s International Honors Program.

The room is divided into classes of income, and each person’s dinner depends on the card he or she draws when entering the room.

“It was very eye-opening to see that I had a portion of rice that I had to eat with my hands in the low-income section while my friends were feasting on tomatoes, basil and mozzarella cheese,” said Layson Rapoza, a freshman majoring in aerospace engineering.

James pointed out that 85 percent of approximately 100 participants were not seated at the high-income table, complete with glass goblets and dessert.

“I got lucky, but it made me feel really bad, because I know we eat like this in reality every day,” said Amelia Warriner, a freshman majoring in nursing. “A girl gave salt to somebody in the lower class, and offered them a roll, but they didn’t take it.”

Warriner said she believed sharing food to be against the rules of this exercise.

However, sharing your blessings is an important concept to master, said Katie Doughty, director of Jesus Way Shelter.

“I want students on the UA campus to realize that homelessness doesn’t look like a bag lady or your average hobo,” Doughty said. “It looks just like you and me.”

A lady stood up wearing gray slacks, a white, ruffled blouse, black sandals and a long strand of pearls.

“I have been homeless for almost a year,” Connie Block said. “I suffered pretty severe abuse in the 15 years of my marriage. My husband was very terrifying.”

Block managed to escape, but she was forced to leave behind everything she had. She eventually made her way to Jesus Way in Tuscaloosa.

“I could never, ever imagine being where I am now, and it all happened so quickly,” Block said. “A friend told me finding Jesus Way was kind of like my resurrection. And in a way, I am bringing myself back up out of the ground.”

Doughty says she thinks students can make a difference in hunger and homelessness both locally and worldwide.

“There’s more to this quarter of a mile we’re living on than football and ‘Roll Tide,’” Doughty said. “There are people out there who don’t have the luxury of eating in the University cafeteria. And when you can help someone from your heart, it means more than anything.”

Helping from the heart is just what people like Jim and Jennifer Woods, members of St. Mark’s United Methodist Church, do on a regular basis.

“There is a fallacy that if people work hard enough, everybody can sit at the high-income table, and that’s absolutely untrue,” Jennifer Woods said. “There are all kinds of circumstances out there that lead to the homelessness.”

St. Marks caters to more than 500 families each year, but Jim Woods is concerned that there are so many more people out there who need help, who are forced to bathe at the public library or live in the woods behind Walmart.

“You could be sitting at that table today with your back turned to everyone else, and tonight or tomorrow you could become homeless,” said Michelle Cobb, a current resident of Jesus Way. “You never know when you’ll be in that situation. If there’s any way possible for you to help the people who need it, then help. And God will bless you for helping other people.”

If You’d Like to Fight in UA’s Fight Against Hunger:

1.  Text “BAMA” to 27722 to donate to Beat Auburn, Beat Hunger

2.  Bring canned food to any of the number of red barrels around campus

Donate online at

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