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‘Hunger Banquet’ to Kick Off World Food Day Activities on St. Croix

UVI Campus Entrance St. Croix photo

UPDATE: The Hunger Banquet activity has been postponed until further notice. St. Croix's main World Food Day celebration, set for noon to six p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 19, on UVI’s Albert A. Sheen Campus, will take place as scheduled. See details below.

A group of fifth through eighth graders, along with Department of Education officials and community leaders, will sit down to a “Hunger Banquet” at the Great Hall on UVI’s Albert A. Sheen Campus on St. Croix beginning at 9 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 16. This unique meal with the ominous sounding name will kick off 2014 World Food Day activities on St. Croix, part of an international effort to bring attention to the plight of the hungry and undernourished in the territory and the world.

World Food Day is officially celebrated on Oct. 16, with related activities going on throughout October. This year’s World Food Day theme, selected by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, is “Family Farming: Feeding the World, Caring for the Earth.”

Hunger Banquet participants will be randomly assigned as wealthy, middle class or lowest income, and served a meal appropriate to their assigned station in life. “It’s a way for them to experience the challenges of poverty, world hunger and equitable food distribution first hand,” said Clarice Clarke of the UVI Cooperative Extension Service on St. Croix, which is organizing World Food Day activities on St. Croix.

Clarke said the 100 or so participants will be seated at decorated tables, with the wealthy, mingling with middle class and lowest income participants. The catch is that those designated lowest income may only get a glass of water for their meal, while the wealthy group will receive a full plate of food and nice juice or cider to drink. The middle class will receive only a minimal portion of food. “It’s really valuable for the children to go through this exercise,” she said. “Afterwards we ask them to describe their experience and what changes they may make in their lives based on the experience,” Clarke said. “Last year many told us that it made them realize just how much food they waste. They planned to change that.”

Public Invited to World Food Day Celebration on Oct. 19

The Virgin Islands public is invited to join St. Croix’s main World Food Day celebration, which is scheduled for noon to six p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 19, on UVI’s Albert A. Sheen Campus. Admission is free, but everyone is asked to bring a non-perishable food item to contribute to the day's food drive. All food collected will be distributed to local food banks.

Sunday’s (Oct. 19) activities, which have been growing in popularity in recent years, include a formal outdoor ceremony, a food vendors’ court, a farmers’ market, vegetable seedling distribution, and agriculture workshops and demonstrations.  Each year, three agricultural products are highlighted. This year, Clarke said the selections are eggplant, passion fruit and beef.

Those products serve as the centerpiece for the popular World Food Day “4-H Youth Super Chef” competition.” Teams of students from six of St. Croix’s junior high and high schools will compete to prepare meals – a main course, drink and dessert – with the eggplant, passion fruit and beef provided. Their creations will be judged by a panel of judges composed primarily of chefs from the community, as well as one judge selected from the audience by raffle. In addition to taste, the students’ efforts will be judged on teamwork, presentation, knowledge of the nutritional value and origin of their products and questions about the purpose of World Food Day, Clarke said.

In addition to the student competition, a “Passion Fruit Blast” competition will challenge the general public to bring out the products of their best desserts, preserves and drink recipes.

A court for food vendors, a farmer’s market and petting zoo for children, will round out the day’s offerings and are expected to be major attractions. Free vegetable seedlings will also be distributed. Entertainment will feature music by the UVI Concert Band and DJ Porter, and performances by the Guardians of Culture Moko Jumbies and the St. Croix Martial Arts children’s karate club.

World Food Day is sponsored by UVI’s Cooperative Extension Service, the UVI Agricultural Experiment Station and the V.I. Department of Agriculture. Plaza Extra is a participating sponsor. For more information, call Clarice Clarke at (340) 692-4060.