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Hunger Group Sponsors Banquet

By Sarah Y. Keightley
News Editor

In stark contrast to the feasts many recently enjoyed at Thanksgiving, MIT's Hunger Action Group sponsored Hunger Awareness Week from Nov. 16 to Nov. 20 to illustrate the world's unbalanced food distribution and to raise money for children's development projects.

"Children of the World" was the theme of this year's Hunger Awareness Week, said Mehran Islam '94, co-president of Hunger Action Group. The main events were the hunger banquet on Nov. 17 and Oxfam America's annual fast on Nov. 19.

Hunger Action Group is a supporter of Oxfam America. According to Geetha G. Krishnan '93, co-president of the club, Oxfam is a national organization which raises money for grass roots development projects in developing countries. The day of fasting is a national event sponsored by Oxfam, while the Hunger Awareness Week is a Hunger Action Group event.

Most ate only rice at banquet

Sixty percent of the people at the banquet lunch were served only rice, 35 percent were served rice and beans, and 5 percent were served a gourmet meal, following the pattern of the world's food distribution, Islam said.

Community Fellows Director Melvin H. King, also an adjunct professor in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning, spoke at the luncheon.

King, who was served rice, has spoken at the event for the past four or five years. This was a "good learning experience, especially when you see what others have access to," he said.

He noted that while hunger is more of a global issue, it is still appropriate on a local level. "Students should think about this as an issue in their lives," he said.

King said he challenged those in attendance to come up with solutions to the hunger problem. He asked students to use their creativity to somehow give those who are hungry and homeless an opportunity to change their conditions.

King's speech emphasized the importance of making the MIT community more aware, Islam said. According to Islam, King said that students at MIT are creative when creating hacks, but "where's the creativity when it comes to hunger and homelessness? The creativity is there, but is not being utilized."

Krishnan said that about 12 or 13 people attended the banquet.

Bina M. Patel '94 attended the banquet and was served rice and beans. She said she expected a better turnout. But she added that it was probably a stressful time for people, and thought the event could have received more publicity.

Annual fasting fund-raiser

Oxfam America's 19th annual fast took place on Nov. 19. People sacrificed one meal and donated the money that they would have spent on food, Islam said. This year Hunger Action Group raised $400 during the week. The money is going towards children's development projects, he said.

"If each MIT student donated $1, we would have raised $8000. That's something to think about," Krishnan said.

As a member of the club, Patel has also helped with the fund-raising project for Somalia and the food salvaging program.

The food salvaging program is a good way for MIT students to help out on a local level, Krishnan said. Four days a week, students take surplus food from the dining halls and bring it to homeless shelters. The group currently needs more drivers, she added.