The CSUN National Society of Collegiate Scholars members presented a unique presentation to students who came for a free meal at the World Hunger event on March 28 at the Shoshone Room in the Satellite Student Union.
The NSCS wanted to gather CSUN students and inform them about the poverty, hunger, and social injustices that are occurring around the world. The process of informing was done in the form of role playing.
Students were lured in by the announcement of free food but had no idea what was waiting for them at the door.
“How can college students reject free food,” CSUN student Anna Gomez said. “When I came in they said pick a piece of paper out of a hat. It said I was part of the high-income group with four other people.”
As people entered into the Shoshone room, an NSCS member was waiting by the door with a black hat that contained 100 pieces of folded paper identifying which social class the students belonged to for the evening.
The higher classes were seated at a round table. The table was covered with a pink table cloth, utensils, plates and glasses of water constantly refilled at the sight of emptiness. They were served a three-course meal of meat, salad and dessert.
The middle classes were seated on chairs and were later served rice and beans while the lower-class sat on the floor with rice and water.
As students were seated in their appropriate areas, NSCS members shared facts about the groups’ economic status.
Fifteen percent of the world’s population makes $976,000 or more a year. This group receives the best medical care and can afford to send their children to college. They live in a secure home and own multiple television sets.
Conversely, the low-income group makes up 60 percent of the population. They make, on average, $2.50 a day and can barely afford basic needs such as food, water and shelter, NSCS members said.
As Gomez was eating her salad during the presentation, other members sat quietly on the floor without food.
“They (NSCS) kept telling me I can start eating while the other people were hungry,” Gomez said. “I felt bad but it’s a fact of life. It was an eye-opener to go into another person’s shoes. But the re-enactment was just a demonstration to educate.”
Not everyone took it as an educational experience. The majority of students who were role-playing for the lower-income group began to leave after they were told their free dinner would consist of rice and water.
“Some people wish to even have that rice,” said Kevin Guillen, a NSCS member. “I know you guys are mature students. Let’s just live in the moment and help make a difference. Just expanding the knowledge is helping out.”
Guillen tried to keep students involved in the event with words but many of their stomachs spoke louder to them.
“The only way to bribe them was to offer free food,” said Anna Perera, graduating senior and NSCS president who introduced the idea of this event to the staff members. “When some walked out I was pretty upset at first, then I realized that’s what happens in life.”
More than 800 million people suffer from chronic hunger while some can afford to enjoy a hearty meal and dispose amounts of food greater than a low-income has to feed their entire family. This scenario was displayed as the high-income role players disposed of their leftovers as the low-income group were eating bits of watered rice with their hands.
After the point was made and students understood the idea of how poverty and hunger occur, there was time of sharing from personal stories to revelations of the issue.
“Some people can have an extravagant meal and some people in America go through trash to eat,” said Audris Cotton, one of the speakers for the event.
After a time of sharing everyone in the room was able to enjoy a full meal.