Saturday, January 3, 2009

The Meal Ticket

Back before Thanksgiving I saw an ad in an Asheville paper for something called a Hunger Banquet. Sponsored by a church group, the event was planned to "allow organizers and participants alike to experience how our decisions affect others in the world."

Guests draw tickets at random that assign them to a high-, middle-, or low-income tier and receive a corresponding meal. The percentage of tickets in each tier correspond, more or less, to the distribution of wealth in the world.

The 15 percent in the high income tier are served a sumptuous meal. The 35 percent in the middle income section get beans and rice. And the remaining 50 percent get a small bowl of rice.

I wondered what it would be like to go to a hunger banquet. Particularly, what would it be like to draw the sumptuous meal ticket?



Could I eat and enjoy that meal while my table mates had only beans and rice?



Or rice alone?



Or would I say, 'Let's put all this food together and share"? Is that Socialism? Or is it Charity, Christian or otherwise?

That hunger banquet is on my mind as I resolve (like so many) to go on a diet after all the holiday feasting. It was an accident of birth, that gave me, as most of those born into so-called first world countries, the 15 percent meal ticket and now I wonder, what about those unseen table mates?

Two small suggestions: This from Pat D. who says she's never had a problem (i.e. solicitations or spam) from this site The Hunger Site It links to all sorts of charities, each of which (don't ask me how or why) is benefited just by your click. (Probably something to do with ads on the site.)

And there's the extremely addictive Freerice.com where you can build your vocabulary, (in English or another language -- I'm working on my French), improve your geography or math skills, or do a little art appreciation, all the while causing rice to be donated to feed hungry people. Really pretty cool.

Neither of these is going to end world hunger. I know that. But they might just keep me mindful that my decisions do affect others in the world.




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7 comments:

Auntie Knickers said...

Here's something else: www.ricedinner.org
A family friend started this practice over 40 years ago but only recently began sharing it and has the website for more information. You have one meal a month of just rice (a little soy sauce is allowed) and send the money saved to your favorite hunger organization. She suggests $10. Your photos really helped bring the idea home and inspire me to start this when I get back home from my trip to visit the kids!

Vicki Lane said...

Thank you, Auntie Knickers. What a very good idea!

I have dithered since Thanksgiving about this post. I couldn't get the Hunger Banquet out of my mind but as I generally try to be upbeat and non-preachy on this blog, I wondered if I should go all heavy.

And then out of the blue, Pat D. sent me the Hunger Site link and asked me to think about doing a post.

Again I dithered, and decided to wait -- not till Lent (which would have been appropriate) but at least till the festivities were past.

So glad to hear a positive response!!

Tammy said...

What an interesting idea (the Hunger Banquet) and a great visual to see the difference in the 'top 15 percent' and the rest. Small as it may be, one of my attempts this year is to just stop wasting food. Since I live alone, it is hard to make food for 'just one' and I end up with leftovers--lots sometimes. I do often take some to my folks, but I still have a problem of not purposefully preserving what I make. Of course nothing ever truly 'goes to waste' with the dogs, cats and chickens to clean up, but I'm still trying to be more mindful of my 'riches' and not be wasteful. Thanks for the timely post.
Tammy

Helen T in Greenville said...

In reference to Tammy's post, I too live alone and tend to pick up something fast food rather than take the time and effort to cook for one. I was thinking about actually eating up the food I have in the house before I go out and buy something. That single can of tuna fillet, the can of peas, etc., can be combined with rice and decrease my waste of food. Simplify and don't waste. What I need to work on.

Anonymous said...

Hi Vicki,

Will suggest the dinner idea as a fund raiser and awareness raiser at church.

Thanks Betsy Anderson from Jamestown

Vicki Lane said...

God for all of you!

I know what you mean, Tammy -- I always feel like nothing is really wasted if I'm feeding it to the animals. But the back of my refrigerator holds some embarrassing secrets.

And what a healthful, as well as economical change you've suggested, Helen. (I don't live near any fast food place but I remember (from years ago)the lure at the end of a day at work.)

Betsy from Jamestown -- let us know if it happens -- I really am interested to hear how people react.

And Betsy, are you Margaret's friend?

Vicki Lane said...

That was meant to be Good for all of you -- but maybe it was a Freudian slip.