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Nov 15

Jessamine County FFA hosts inaugural hunger banquet

Mary Marion laughed while eating rice out of her hand during the inaugural Jessamine County FFA hunger banquet at Jessamine Career and Technology Center on Monday. Marion was assigned to the low-class group for the meal; she was one of 21 who were not provided seating, a bowl or utensils.

It was a crowded floor for dinner at Jessamine Career and Technology Center on Monday night as 21 people of varying ages sat cross-legged and ate rice from their hands along with a meager cup of water.

Those on the floor were the low class in Jessamine County FFA’s first hunger banquet, an event that sought to paint a picture of world hunger while raising awareness about the problem.

“We’re trying to show how there are almost 2.5 billion people in the world who don’t have food,” said FFA reporter Sarah Warren, who helped coordinate the event after participating in a similar activity at a global food conference last month. “We’re trying to raise awareness for hunger in our small little county of Jessamine County and how those problems persist here as well as around the world.”

After paying the admission price of $1 or a canned-food item, attendees were given a ticket as they walked in the doors of the multipurpose room at JCTC. Low-class pink tickets sat on the floor; middle-class blue tickets sat in rows of chairs; and a few high-class white tickets sat at a table.

FFA members worked the event and presented information about hunger before the meal, giving members of each class examples of what their lives might be like — and even delivering fictional bad news to a couple middle-class citizens that moved them down to the floor.

The high-class citizens received a full meal with salad, lasagna and dessert and were waited on with unlimited drink refills. Those in the middle class got rice and vegetables; the lowest class on the floor got rice with no bowl or utensils and half a cup of water — no refills.

Warren had taken part in the hunger banquet at the World Food Prize Global Youth Institute in Iowa in October; she said after that trip that she wanted to do what she could locally to help fix the problem of world hunger.

“I know I can’t do much about it, but I can stimulate this entire community to do something about it,” she said. “I can make people see, through the hunger banquet and things like that, that there are people in this world who don’t have what you have. Even when you think you’re low, they’re low.”

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