[Editorial] Oxfam Hunger Banquet
by The Milton Measure on Friday, November 16th, 2012
With the annual Oxfam Hunger Banquet, the Milton community recognizes the persistent suffering that hunger inflicts across the world. During the event, students draw lots determining whether they will have rice, rice and beans, or a normal lunch–mirroring low, middle, and high income brackets. In one of the wealthiest nations on earth, in one of the most prosperous states, at one of the most elite schools, Milton students can feel worlds away from the nearly one billion people who struggle daily with hunger. The annual grumbling and groaning over being asked to give up regular food for one meal, one day of the year shows just how accustomed we are to being fed. Even those who take it upon themselves to forgo all but water and rice only experience a tiny sliver of real hunger—the kind that can lead to malnutrition and starvation, killing over 30,000 children a day.
Oxfam in its current form serves a crucial role, particularly within the wider context of Community Service at Milton. Milton students donate thousands of person-hours a week to service sites around Greater Boston, as the Community Service Board increases awareness about local and global inequity. The Hunger Banquet is a key component of that awareness, as it is one of the only opportunities at Milton to engage with a worldwide problem in an interactive context. Given Community Service’s successes in using Oxfam week as a serious educational opportunity for Milton students, we would like to see the event go beyond a description of the problems surrounding hunger and expanded to include a consideration of solutions. The Community Service Board does excellent work every year with raising awareness about food insecurity; now, the whole community should think about the root causes of global hunger more thoroughly.
A parallel can be drawn between the Hunger Banquet and the administration’s focus on gender issues and sexism on campus. After numerous assemblies and speeches on the subject that focused on the persistence of the issue, Milton took an excellent step by inviting Dr. Jackson Katz as an assembly speaker. While he spelled out with detailed statistics the widespread problems of sexism, he spent the majority of his time and energy making clear the precise steps that men and women could take to provide solutions. This model is even more easily applicable to the Hunger Banquet, as the Community Service Board has already laid a strong educational groundwork for an incisive discussion on hunger.
As we draw closer to Thanksgiving, a traditional time of feasting and gratitude, we should strive to go beyond awareness; we should take our knowledge and apply it to think of innovative solutions for hunger. The Oxfam Hunger Banquet gives students and faculty a firm understanding of the effects of global hunger. Now, we would encourage everyone to investigate topics like the work of Norman Borlaug, the Green Revolution, and the best theories for making the global distribution of resources more equitable. With the work the Community Service Board has done to create a culture of service at Milton, faculty, administrators, and students all have a responsibility to better understand the broader issues underlying widespread hunger, especially as it is a topic with significant interdisciplinary applicability in the classroom. In years to come, we hope to see Oxfam become not only a source of awareness, but also a venue for a serious exchange of ideas and practical solutions about the plight of the hungry around the world.
Short URL: http://miltonmeasure.org/?p=4197