On Friday, April 26, COC informed students and community members alike about what it actually means to be homeless.
The school’s Public Health Initiative and Community Based Learning program came together to put together their first hunger banquet, an event which consisted of speakers, panels and an interactive event.
The goal of the banquet was to educate the audience on issues such as food insecurity, something that is more prevalent than you may think.
“There’s certain things like health and food insecurity,” said Public Health Initiative co-founder Jacob Sola, “it shouldn’t be on people’s mind.”
Sola and his co-founder Bretton Archer are passionate about helping those that struggle with these issues, and worked with faculty director of the Civic and Community Engagement Initiatives Patty Robinson on putting this enlightening event together.
The hunger banquet started with an address from Robinson, who provided a slideshow illustrating how prevalent homelessness is not only in our city or our state, but the rest of the world as well.
Later on, multiple panels were held consisting of COC staff, who provided information about their facilities that help students in need, such as the new Basic Needs Center and the RISE program, which stands for resources for individual success in education, a program that helps homeless students and those who were or are in foster programs.
“It’s a serious problem here,” said Robinson, “but when you look at it globally you see how serious it is.”
Robinson was inspired to put on the event by attending a conference two years ago that held its own banquet, and decided to hold one at COC with the help of a $1000 grant from the COC foundation.
A hunger banquet consists of three groups of people, each larger than the last, which are randomly assigned.
The groups are designed to represent three different income levels in the world, with the first group receiving a full meal, the second only beans and rice and the third with only rice, and in some cases, no chairs to sit on.
This event actually had chairs for every group, yet the message still came across strongly.
“I thought this would be a good way to bring about awareness, as well as to educate people,” Robinson said.
The Public Health Initiate and the Community Based learning program are looking to hold similar events like this one in the upcoming semester.