By Marie Janzen
Over 925 million people suffer from chronic hunger.
Twenty-two thousand children die a day from hunger or a preventable disease.
Some 2.5 billion people live in poverty and 39 million Americans are a part of that number.
Oxfam and Loyola University Chicago’s Hunger Week hosted a social class dinner this week the 4th floor of the Richard J. Klarchek Information Commons to show how food is distributed and accessed throughout the world.
They also emphasized how climate change has made those in poverty even poorer and how the world is essentially divided into classes.
“Everyone on Earth has the same basic needs, it’s the situations and cultures we are born in that differ,” said Jenny Schwarts, a speaker at the event who is a junior majoring in environmental studies.
As people entered the room, they were told to pick a card at random. Each card provided the person with a new name, a social class title according to income, and a small biography of their circumstances.
The three classes: upper class, middle class, and poverty were all designated to eat in certain places. The upper class was seated at a dining table with napkins, silverware, and butter. The middle class was seated in a row of chairs and the lowest class was seated on the floor.
Fifteen percent of the global population makes up the upper class. This consists of people who make at least $12,000 or more a year and have easy access to healthcare, schooling, credit, and a nutritious diet.
The middle class is 35 percent and has an income between $987 to $11,999. A serious illness or one drought could lower them into poverty. This class varies the most. Some have electricity, have to work in the city, and males have more access to education.
About 50 percent makes up the lowest class who makes less than $986 a year or $2.70 a day. These people have no access to adequate healthcare, expect to lose one or more children before they reach age 5, and are commonly banana, sugar, or coffee farmers.
Each class was given different types and amounts of food. The upper class received pasta, salad, and rolls. The middle class received rice and beans and those in poverty were given rice.
During the dinner, they demonstrated how easy it was for someone in the middle class to drop into the lower class.
A story about a mother who has to grow crops, take care of her children, and walk five to ten miles for water was told. This woman was part of the middle class until she got ill and could no longer sustain her crop fields.
The dinner highlighted how people who suffer from chronic hunger are commonly those who have less access to education and healthcare. This lack of resources leads to illiteracy, war, and sometimes a family’s inability to grow or buy food.
Missy Turk, a junior majoring in psychology and human services found the event enlightening.
“I think it accurately shows the disparity and what we take for granted,” she said. “Being able to go to school and go to events like this makes me feel fortunate.”