Share Downer with the world: Donate meals to Oxfam fast

Jennifer Nummerdor

Mom always said, “Finish your dinner! There are starving children in China!” Yet how many students end the term with dozens of extra meals? What if there was a way to use up those meals and help the hungry at the same time? This week Lawrence students were given the chance to relieve hunger and make Mom proud.

OxFam America, Mortar Board, the Volunteer Center, and Model UN sponsored two Hunger Awareness events this week, “Fast for a World Harvest” and a Hunger Banquet.

OxFam America is an organization “committed to overcoming the staggering facts of world poverty and hunger.” Several Lawrence students and alumni have been members of the group.

On Nov. 18 there was “Fast for a World Harvest.” Lawrence students were asked to donate up to three of their Downer meals. The money from these meals is contributed to OxFam’s hunger relief efforts. Students were also encouraged to fast or skip a meal that day as a symbolic gesture of concern; it was not required, however.

The Fast began 30 years ago on the Thursday before Thanksgiving. Thousands of people fasted or skipped a meal, then donated their food money to OxFam America. In 30 years over $10 million has been raised to help hunger relief around the world.

On Nov. 20, Mortar Board, the Volunteer Center, and Model UN held a Hunger Banquet, hosted by Rod Bradley, dean of multicultural affairs. Open to the entire campus, this event was intended to help people understand hunger on a more personal level.

A Hunger Banquet is an unconventional dinner that demonstrates the global demographics of hunger. Participants are randomly sorted into low-, middle-, or high-income groupings and are fed according to that status. Very few people walk away with a full stomach, but that is purpose of this event: people gain an understanding of how much hunger exists in the world.

For an interactive, choose-your-own-adventure website regarding the Hunger Banquet, go to This wonderful site allows you do follow the life of fictional characters and learn about hunger around the world.

More information on these events and OxFam America’s mission can be found on their website, Students interested in joining OxFam’s efforts on the Lawrence campus may contact Megan Severson at