BYU’s 27th annual Hunger Banquet focuses on helping refugees

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Marissa Getts and Connor Kreutz, members of the Students for International Development Club, inform students about the annual Hunger Banquet event at a booth in the Wilkinson Student Center. (Gianluca Cuestas)

BYU’s Students for International Development Club will focus on helping refugees at its 27th annual Hunger Banquet this Saturday, Feb. 25.

The club chooses a speaker and a topic each year to educate students during the Hunger Banquet. Club president Laura Boyer said this year the club is focusing on the refugee crisis.

The event starts at 6 p.m. with an involvement fair, according to co-president Matthew Gale. There will be student organizations as well as non-profit organizations, each with a booth and information on how to get involved. There will also be clubs and businesses that have social issue-oriented missions.

Boyer and the club’s two co-presidents, Gale and Adrian Glover, have spent months planning for the event. Every year, the club chooses ten organizations that apply to receive a donation. The Grantwell team at the Ballard Center then narrows down the organizations to the top three.

“One thing we’re really excited about this year is the Sorenson Legacy Foundation is matching ticket sales, so when students pay 10 bucks for their tickets, they (the foundation) put in another 10 bucks on top of that, so it will double our impact,” Glover said.

Students will be able to text in a vote for which of the organizations from the involvement fair they want to receive the donation money from all of the ticket sales during the event.

“What I tell people is it’s a minimum donation of $10. That’s how much the ticket costs, and you can donate as much as you want,” Gale said.

At 6:30 p.m., volunteers will start seating the participants, and the students will trade their tickets for color-coded wristbands. Based on the wristband color each student receives, they will be placed either in first class, second class or third class.

10 percent of the students will eat a five-course meal in first class, 20 percent will eat fast-food in second class and 70 percent of students will eat beans and rice on the floor as a third-class meal.

“The overall purpose of the banquet is to highlight poverty in the world,” Boyer said. “We want to allow BYU students to broaden their horizons and … for two hours, to understand what that might feel like.”

There will also be performers and various cultural activities throughout the night. The main focus of the evening is the guest speaker. This year, the speaker is Nathanael Molle from SINGA France, an organization which works to bring communities together with refugees, according to the Hunger Banquet website.

Organizations across campus have come together to help create this event. BYU Dining Services donated all of the food for the event as it has for several years, according to Gale. Each year, it chooses one campus event to donate all the food for.

The Kennedy Center also helps by hosting the Students for International Development club and by giving them a generous budget to work with. The Ballard Center is also heavily involved. It donates money and resources in addition to reviewing organization applications.

This event holds importance for volunteers and participants, according to Randy Page, the faculty adviser for the Students for International Development club.

“(With) the focus on development, and on poverty and refugees, there will be a lot of learning for the participants that come,” Page said.