Unique and Powerful – Oxfam America Hunger Banquet® Reaches Hundreds of Thousands
Together with individuals and local groups in more than 90 countries, Oxfam saves lives, helps people overcome poverty, and fights for social justice. Our vision: A just world without poverty.
“Oxfam America Hunger Banquet [participants] gain a deeper understanding not just of facts and figures, but of a face behind the numbers,” says the Reverend C. Douglas Smith, a community organizer from Richmond, VA. So what is it all about? What makes this unique, interactive event so popular—and effective?
Since 1974, thousands of supporters have used Oxfam’s signature event to educate, motivate, and inspire others. Over the past ten years alone, nearly 5,000 Oxfam America Hunger Banquet events have been held, over 250,000 people have attended them and more than $1 million dollars has been raised.
Here’s how it works: Guests draw tickets at random that assign them each to either a high-, middle-, or low-income tier—based on the latest statistics about the number of people living in poverty. Each income level receives a corresponding meal: The 15 percent in the high-income tier are served a sumptuous meal; the 35 percent in the middle-income section eat a simple meal of rice and beans; and the 50 percent in the low-income tier help themselves to small portions of rice and water.
Whether it’s dividing up the rice into portions that aren’t really big enough to fill you up, or the uncomfortable feeling of eating a lavish dinner while those around you go hungry, wherever you sit, the meal is an unforgettable one. Not everyone leaves with a full stomach, but all possess a greater understanding of the problems of hunger and poverty, and feel motivated to do something to help.
Oxfam has developed a robust suite of educational materials, including a step-by-step planning kit and a sample script that guides participants through the meal (available free online at oxfamamerica.org/hungerbanquet).The materials can also be tailored to a particular issue, setting, or theme, which speaks to the event’s success in venues from classrooms to community halls, churches to company cafeterias. From a Google office in Cambridge, MA, to an elementary school in Walla Walla, WA, the movement against poverty, very often, starts with attending an Oxfam America Hunger Banquet.
For those who attend, the experience often stays with them for years to come. Students and teachers, particularly, find the Oxfam America Hunger Banquet can educate while involving students and bringing the issues to life. “You can know the statistics—millions, billions, hundreds,” said Tsesa Monaghan, a college student and Oxfam America Hunger Banquet organizer from Minnesota.“But when you’re in a room and see your friends and peers sitting on the floor, representing those in poverty, it makes the matter so much more personal.”
Just ask Kesha Ram, a Vermont state representative who led an event in Burlington last year—and who attended her first Oxfam America Hunger Banquet event as a college student.“I wanted to give back and help lead an event that had been so influential for me” said Ram. “It was really powerful to watch people’s faces when they experienced the injustice of hunger firsthand.’
More About This Charity
Charity of the Year, Most Creative Fundraiser by a Charity
To create lasting solutions to poverty, hunger, and social injustice.
- This Achievement raises $50,000-$75,000 per year
- This charity raised $84,000,000 in 2010