Hartman House on the campus of DePauw University sponsored the third annual Hunger Banquet Thursday. Oxfam America, a non-profit organization that works to end global poverty, initially developed the idea in 1974.
These groups are served corresponding meals, with the low-income -- 55 percent of the world's population -- receiving rice and water; the middle-income -- 35 percent of the world's population -- receiving rice, beans and water; and high-income -- 15 percent of the world's population -- receiving salad, bread with butter, chicken with vegetables, pumpkin pie and lemonade or water.
The groups were further segregated by low-income seated on the floor without utensils; middle-income seated in chairs only and buffet-style serving; and high-income seated at tables with linens, flatware and meal served to them by wait staff.
During the meal, some high-income people "donated" food to low-income individuals. One member of the middle-income group provided remaining rice and beans to the low-income crowd.
The experience was different for everyone.
Individuals in the high-income bracket stated they felt uncomfortable and guilty about the gourmet meal being served to them while the low-income group scooped rice out of a pan on the floor.
People seated facing the wall who could not see the other groups said no thought was given to eating the gourmet food while others had less.
Low-income individuals felt it was about more than food. Some of their dignity had been taken because they had to eat without, a table, chairs or forks.
One gentleman in the middle-class group said he felt content within the system.
Former Indiana First Lady Judy O'Bannon was in attendance and requested to be part of the low-income group.
This resource available to her, but in reality, low-income families do not have an alternative.
The former Indiana first lady discussed her work with the homeless, who tell her a meal is a luxury. During the campaign season, O'Bannon said she saw more for sale signs outside homes (in her area) than campaign signs.
"Homelessness is on the rise," O'Bannon told the crowd.
Statistics show there were 1,500 homeless people in Indiana during 2007.
"This (banquet) was an experience for all of us," O'Bannon said.
The fact is, hunger endures. There are 840 million people worldwide suffering from malnutrition and hunger.
DePauw students will be fasting one meal today and donating the food money to the Away Home or an emergency food pantry.
Anyone wishing to join them, can donate their "lunch money" at the Hartman House located on the corner of Locust and Hannah streets or the charity site.