Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger

Teaching Abundance and Scarcity


A street vendor selling vegetables in Vietnam. (Robin Stephenson/Bread for the World)

By Robin Stephenson

On Fridays, Bread Blog will highlight an activity, for either adults or children, that can be used by Christian educators. This activity, and others like it, can be found in the Engaging Church section of Bread’s website.

If you have ever been to a hunger banquet, you probably know that participation in one of these events often results in an “aha” moment around the issues of global hunger and food disparity. 

At a hunger banquet, a group of people share a meal, but the quality and quantity of the food and water varies. The meal that you eat is determined at random.

We are often presented with grim statistics about hunger. We hear that 925 million people face their days hungry, and are floored by that figure. But how can those who live in abundance even begin to grasp what that statistic really means? Attending a hunger banquet gives attendees at least a sense of how large the global food gap truly is.

My first hunger banquet was on a college campus. The hosts separated us into three groups.  The group representing the developed world ate large portions of protein, vegetables, and rice—a typical American meal. This group sat at a table and used flatware. Needless to say, there were only a few people in this group. The middle income group sat at a smaller table with few aesthetic details. Food was basic, but nourishing—a meal of rice and beans and clean water to drink.  There were more people at this table. The largest group sat on the floor with only one small bowl of rice per person, and no utensils or clean water.  This is how the majority of the world lives. 

I sat at the fancy table, but I could hardly eat my meal. I thought to myself, why in a world of so much do so many go without?  How did I get so lucky to be born into such abundance? 

I thought of the scripture Luke 12:48:

"From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.”

It can be difficult for instructors to convey the concepts of abundance and scarcity in the world during a 45-minute Sunday school class or youth group. In the "Make Hunger History" curriculum there is an exercise that sparks a conversation using M&Ms. "Getting A Fair Share:  A Distribution Exercise" targets grades 7 through 9 and goes beyond just visuals and statistics and asks students to think about the root causes of hunger. 

Robin Stephenson is social media lead/senior regional organizer, western hub.


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I’ve never been to a hunger banquet, but after reading this blog post, I’m looking for one in my area immediately—or going to organize one myself. It seems like a great way to put everything into perspective, particularly for so many of us who tend to take what we have for granted. Thanks for sharing and for the idea!

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