An “unfair feast” of poverty and hunger

Students eat cooked rice from paper cups to experience life in poverty.At a dinner on the DMU campus on Nov. 19, 12 guests feasted on salad and prime rib, served formally on white tablecloths and china. Nearby, 18 guests used their fingers to tuck into pizza served on Styrofoam. Meanwhile, the remaining half of the 60 total guests gamely ate cooked rice from paper cups.

The meal was modeled after the Oxfam America Hunger Banquet, in which guests draw tickets at random that assign them to high-, medium- and low-income tiers — 20 percent, 30 percent and 50 percent, respectively — based on the latest statistics on poverty.

The evening featured a presentation by Tony Timm, executive director of Central Iowa Shelter and Services (CISS), which provides free shelter and meals to homeless adults and facilitates their move toward self-sufficiency. He discussed the organization’s mission and the variety of challenges and barriers that homeless people face. CISS serves more than 2,000 individuals per year by providing emergency shelter, transitional housing for veterans, subsidized efficiency apartments and services of its health clinic, food pantry, clothing closet and life skills program.

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