Weekly Features


Fifth annual Hunger Banquet raises awareness about food disparities across the globe

Mar. 28, 2013

Students, faculty, staff and the local community recently participated in a night of food and live entertainment designed to raise awareness about a global health issue that affects millions of people worldwide -- hunger.

The fifth annual IUPUI Hunger Banquet took place at the IUPUI Campus Center on Sunday, March 24, with dozens eating meals representing what people in the developing world eat every day. They also had the opportunity to watch multicultural dance performances and hear from keynote speaker Robert Einterz, M.D., professor of clinical medicine and associate dean for global health at the IU School of Medicine and associate director for the AMPATH Consortium.

“Hunger does not discriminate,” said Jenny Shao, a third-year medical student and co-chair of the IU School of Medicine Global Health Student Interest Group, which sponsors the event. “The Global Health SIG’s mission is to help bring awareness to disparities that are occurring around the world, with hunger being one major issue.”

Participants in the Hunger Banquet were assigned meals representative of the first-, second- and third-worlds, including not only meal type (Greek, Italian, African, etc.) but also portion size. The dinner aims to provide meal-goers a feel for the disproportionate distribution of food across the globe. Meals were provided by local sponsors such as Chipotle Mexican Grill and Santorini’s Greek Kitchen.

“Sometimes as medical students we lose sight as to what is occurring around the world because of our own personal goals,” Shao said. “It’s astonishing to experience first-hand how drastically things change from culture to culture in regards to amenities such as food, water and shelter. Food insecurity affects everyone, even people here at home, but especially those in poverty-stricken regions of the world, with this event helping bring awareness to those disparities.”

Entertainment included performances by Hope For Tomorrow, a Burmese cultural dance group based in Indianapolis which performs locally and nationally, and the A.S.A.P. Dance Company, a troupe comprised of students at IUPUI whose name in Hindi is Apni Shaan Apni Pehchan (“Our Appeal, Our Identity”), which performed the Bhangra, a traditional Indian dance. 

Every aspect of the event, including procuring a venue, entertainment, food sponsors and items for the silent auction, was coordinated by students from the IU School of Medicine. This year’s auction items included tickets to the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and local sports events and restaurant gift certificates, with proceeds going to support the IU-Kenya Orphans and Vulnerable Children Program and the Tumaini Children Center in Eldoret, Kenya.

Last year, Shao notes that the banquet raised about $4,000 to support the program and center at AMPATH (Academic Model Providing Access to Healthcare), a partnership between Moi University School of Medicine, Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital and the IU School of Medicine.

The event also hosted numerous information booths sponsored by groups such as the Sociology Club at IUPUI, Bread for the World and Timmy Global Health, which was founded by Chuck Dietzen, an IU School of Medicine alumnus, which helped provide more information about health and food disparities across the globe -- as well as ways in which individuals can get involved in combating these issues.

“This event is important because it helps raise awareness about differences between food and hunger across cultures,” said Shao, who aims to study abroad in Africa after graduation and residency in general surgery. “Before real change can happen, people need to understand these disparities.”

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