Seated on the floor, in chairs or around tables, a group of 60 individuals from the area gathered April 7 at the Redwood Area Community Center in Redwood Falls to take part in a unique experience being hosted by the Redwood Valley FFA Chapter.

Known as the Oxfam Hunger Banquet®, the event, initiated by Redwood Valley High School senior Lydia Rigge, served as an opportunity to learn more about hunger on a global scale.

As each person arrived for the banquet, they drew a card that assigned which economic class they would be part of for the event. Those who were of the lowest class sat on the floor, while those who were of a higher economic status sat in rows of chairs. Those who made up the highest incomes sat in chairs around tables. 

Rigge and fellow FFA member Alex Louwagie read a script that helped provide information.

“The one thing I would like you to remember is that everyone on earth has the same basic need,” said Rigge, adding it is only circumstances, such as where someone lives, that differs. “Some of us are born in relative prosperity and security, while millions through no choice of their own are born in poverty.”

The banquet demonstrates that equality and balance does not exist, added Rigge.

The United States is among the wealthiest nations in the world, added Rigge, and yet there are more than 40 million people who live in poverty.

The highest per capita income level represents 20 percent of the world’s population, and to be a member of this group your income needs to be a minimum of just over $8,400.

Meeting daily food requirements is not a challenge for those in the highest level, said Louwagie, adding the reality is that many of those in this income level exceed their daily required food intake leading to other health challenges such as heart disease.

Yet, the best medical care in the world is also offered to this group, and its children will get a good education. They live in a comfortable home, and when they go on vacation they do not have to worry about their job not being there for them when you return.

Rigge is hopeful those who attended the banquet not only heard the message but will also take action based on what they experienced.

“Everyone can do something,” said Rigge.

Information can be found about taking action to combat global hunger on the Oxfam Web site at Rigge said she felt the hunger banquet was a success, and she hopes that it will continue to be offered in the community in the future.