Birmingham Holds Hunger Banquet, Stands Up Against Poverty to Help Set Guinness Record
On Sunday, October 18, more than 150 diners in Birmingham, Ala., got a taste of global food inequity at a “hunger banquet” hosted by Rogue Tavern and supported by local celebrities and businesses.
Organized by local leaders of national anti-poverty groups Bread for the World, Care, and the ONE Campaign, the hunger banquet was the Birmingham groups’ unique way to observe the fourth annual, worldwide “Stand Up, Take Action, End Poverty Now!” mobilization on the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.
Diners at the Birmingham hunger banquet, along with millions of people around the world, literally stood up and called on world leaders to eradicate extreme poverty.
Coordinators for the global “Stand Up” effort announced that its 173 million participants around the world broke the Guinness World record for greatest number of human beings ever mobilized on the planet.
To highlight the scope of global hunger, the Rogue Tavern was transformed into three worlds, divided according to the global distribution of wealth. Diners were seated according to tickets distributed randomly at the entrance:
- Fifteen percent of the diners received a gourmet meal prepared by Chef Haller Magee of Satterfield's, at white cloth, candle-lit tables, served by celebrity waiters Scott Register and Joel Pryor, and serenaded by a violinist.
- Thirty-five percent of the diners sat at tables of rustic, all-weather furniture after serving themselves rice and beans from a buffet line.
- The remaining fifty percent of the attendees ate white rice while sitting on benches or burlap coffee bags on the floor of an area decorated with hay bales and trees to resemble the outdoors.
The message behind the hunger banquet was well-received by participants—even those who were not served a high-end meal. “I really needed that,” said Live 100.5’s Scott Register, who waited on the 15 percent of diners lucky enough to get a gourmet meal.
The experience was “very sobering, and makes you count your blessings,” he said. In addition to the meal, banqueters learned about global hunger and poverty and made the “Stand Up” pledge to support the Millennium Development Goals, a global pact to cut in half global hunger, poverty, and disease by 2015.
Many attendees took immediate action with their cell phones by calling Senator Richard Shelby and asking him to support the Global Food Security Act, S. 384. Looking beyond the tragic reality of global hunger, Dr. Suzanne Martin of Samford University said she was struck by “the groundswell of hope within the international community that we can eradicate extreme poverty in this generation.”
Martin, a volunteer with Bread for the World, led the Stand Up pledge in Birmingham for the fourth consecutive year. “Standing up and speaking words of hope is an energizing and convicting way to recommit to doing all we can do,” she said.
Food for the event was provided by Satterfield's, Cantina, Jim ‘n Nick's, and California Pizza Kitchen at Riverchase Galleria.
Although some banqueters ate better than others, everyone heard Jon Poor play acoustic guitar and sing as people arrived. Servants in Faith and Technology (SIFAT) students from countries around the world closed the evening with an a capella performance. The Banquet was emceed by former Magic 96.5 WMJJ-FM radio personality and local actress Jil Friday.
Submitted by Elaine VanCleave
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