With Miami still one of the poorest cities in the nation, the University of Miami is set to host a free one-day conference on its Coral Gables campus that will inform students from UM and other colleges and universities in South Florida about the economic despair in their own backyard. The Miami Poverty Conference, a student-led initiative that will be held Saturday, February 21 from 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Whitten University Center, will create awareness about poverty-related issues in Miami through interactive workshops that address poverty's relationship to immigration, race, health, politics, and other areas. Several UM faculty members will lead the workshops and breakout sessions, and local community agencies will take part in discussions on how to create plans of action to better the community.
Registered attendees will not only receive breakfast, lunch, and dinner during the daylong event but will also take part in a “hunger banquet,” a symbolic activity aimed at demonstrating the realities of food distribution throughout the world's regions and economic groups. Live band performances and a spoken-word presentation will close out the event with a benefit concert at The Rock from 8 to 10 p.m. Conference check-in starts at 8 a.m. at the UC lower lounge area. To preregister online, visit www.miami.edu/leadandserve.
Update: My colleague Marnie Mahoney was kind enough to point me to Oxfam America's web site where they explain the 'Hunger Banquet' concept:
An Oxfam America Hunger Banquet event provides opportunities to educate your school, group, or the public on hunger issues; raise funds to support Oxfam's poverty-fighting work; and recruit new volunteers for your Oxfam group.
How it works
Guests draw tickets at random that assign them each to either a high-, middle-, or low-income tier and receive a corresponding meal. The 15 percent in the high-income tier are served a sumptuous meal. The 35 percent in the middle-income section eat a simple meal of rice and beans. The 50 percent in the low-income tier help themselves to small portions of rice and water. (High-, middle-, and low-income statistics used in the Oxfam America Hunger Banquet event are based on the World Bank Development Indicators 2007.) Guests can also assume characterizations that describe the situation of a specific person at the income level to which they've been assigned. Finally, all guests are invited to share their thoughts after the meal.
So now we know.