Thursday, January 31, 2013

Fighting poverty and hunger in Utah County

The Volunteer and Service-Learning Center’s annual Hunger Banquet, held in February, will educate university students and community members on local, national and global poverty.

According to the 2010 Census, 11.4 percent of Utah’s population lives below the poverty line. Utah County was at 12.8 percent, putting it in the top 10 most impoverished counties in the state. The continued flailing economy has only increased the percentage over the last three years to a calculated 13.5 percent in Utah County alone.

Utah has one of the highest percentages of children living in high-poverty areas in the United States. Since 2000 it has grown 80 percent in comparison to the 25 percent increase in the country. The Hunger Banquet will provide insight not only into the problem of poverty, but to the solutions available.

In the past the banquet has drawn around 200 participants, who were randomly assigned an economic status upon arrival. That status would then determine their meal experience.

The upper class would be served a four-course meal on fine linen with silverware to match the dining experience of the financial elite. The participants assigned to the middle class were served pizza and soda to mimic the diet of an average middle-income family. Those assigned the lowest class were asked to eat rice and beans on the floor. The percentage of high, middle and lower class tickets reflect the percentages of those socioeconomic classes in the United States.

The Hunger Banquet will be held Feb. 21 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the Grand Ballroom. Tickets will be available in early February. UVU Review