Students raise funds through international development club

From left: Troy Looper, Stephen Hunsaker and Claudia Soto are the co-presidents of the Students for International Development club for the 2017-2018 school year. (Claudia Soto)

The Students for International Development club hosts the Hunger Banquet, a fundraising event that gives students and community members a taste of what poverty and wealth look like on a global scale, on the BYU campus each year. This year, the club raised almost $17,000 for three organizations through the banquet — an all-time high, according to its 2017 impact report.

One of this year’s donation recipients was Catholic Community Services of Utah.  The organization’s director of immigration and refugee resettlement, Aden Batar, said he’ll use the funds from the Hunger Banquet to help the 600 refugees the organization receives every year.

“We don’t get enough funding from the government to support the resettlement services that we do here when refugees arrive,” Batar said.  “That includes housing, food, utilities, household items, clothing — anything that the refugees need here to start a new life in the United States.”

Members of the Students for International Development club pose at the Hunger Banquet in February 2017. (Maureen Elinzano)



Two other organizations were also part of the Hunger Banquet: the Women of the World, which serves refugee women in Utah, and Spice Kitchen Incubator, an International Rescue Committee project that serves refugees and other Salt Lake City community members who want to start a food business.

Neither of these organizations has received funds from the Hunger Banquet yet because the Sorenson Legacy Foundation is matching the funds the club raised. This allowed the club to raise the most it’s ever raised through this event, but also requires a more extensive process for transferring the funds. Matthew Gale, one of the 2016-2017 co-presidents of the club, said the club is finishing up that process and will transfer funds to the the organizations this next week.

Barclay Burns founded the club in 1987 when he decided to get a group of students together and start talking about development.

Thirty years later, Students for International Development raises thousands of dollars each year to give to local and international organizations through the Hunger Banquet.

Hunger Banquet every winter semester is the club’s main event, but the club hosts other activities throughout the year, such as speakers, networking events and hands-on service and learning opportunities.

The campus organization also provides an opportunity to network for study abroads, internships, scholarships and a community for like-minded students.

Gale, an entrepreneurship student, and sociology major Claudia Soto are grateful for this club community. Soto and Gale married after working together in the club.

Soto and Gale met before either of them got involved in the club, but they grew closer as they both became “SIDizens” and learned more about international development through the minor.

“(The club) didn’t bring us together, but it’s made us come closer together,” Soto said. “It brings us closer together just because we’re working together to build something and build solutions for those issues around the world.”


As part of the incoming club presidency, Soto is excited to continue her favorite club traditions, but she also hopes to bring new opportunities to the club — like a club evaluation trip.

“The goal would be to go to a developing country,” Soto, a native of Costa Rica, said. “I would love for students to go there and either learn about other skills or teach other people their own skills.”

Both Soto and Gale emphasized the interdisciplinary nature of the club.  They prefer having all sorts of majors and backgrounds to help increase perspective on world problems.

“SID is for anyone who wants to do good, and they can learn how to do it through their own way,” Gale said.

Gale is sad to leave Students for International Development this year, but he is grateful for the lifelong friendships that he’s developed during his time in the club.

Soto and Gale want to emphasized the inclusivity of the club.

“You don’t need to know about development; you just need to want to change the world,” Soto said.

Students for International Development meets every Thursday at 7:30 p.m. in HRCB 238 during Fall and Winter semesters.

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