On November 29th dozens of BYUH students gathered in the McKay Foyer for the Peacebuilding Opening Social. Whether they came to learn more about the school’s unique Peacebuilding program, or to earn extra credit for a Peacebuilding class, or just to tag along with a friend, the promise of “free food” surely helped produce a great turnout of “starving college students.” 

Eager and enthusiastic conversations flooded the foyer as the students perused different booths and were encouraged to get involved in making the world around them a better place- whether it be through community service projects or mediation involvement, joining campus clubs like One or Engage Now Africa, or even by purchasing a bag from Rice Love.

The evening’s excitement and chatter faded into an awestruck reverence as the students gathered beneath the night sky and listened to the humbling words of Pastor Virgil, who spoke of the thousands of homeless individuals on the island of Oahu.

While we often complain about the spiders and cockroaches that intrude in our cluttered dorm rooms and un-air conditioned apartments, there are literally thousands of people living on the streets and sleeping on the beaches of our beautiful island home.  

One President, Rebecca Vigoren, shared heart-sinking facts about the hundreds of millions of people without food security or access to clean drinking water around the world.

While we complain about the quality of food at the school cafeteria or the milk prices at Foodland, there are literally hundreds of millions of people who don't even know where their next meal will come from. 

While we call ourselves "starving college students," approximately 21,000 people die of starvation every single day. 

After listening to the speakers’ eye-opening words, the students would surely appreciate every bite of the banquet’s dinner.

When it came time to eat, colored tickets were handed to each student. The four students holding yellow tickets were invited to sit on comfortable chairs around a nice table, where heaping plates of delicious food was presented to them.

About twenty students were handed purple tickets that lead them to a crowded table where they were given plates of simple rice and beans.

The fifty students who found themselves holding blue tickets were given a scoop of rice, and were left to find a place to sit on the cold, hard floor.

“I mean, I was slightly satisfied because I haven’t eaten all day and was super hungry,” one student shared after scarfing his portion of rice, “but I was sad because those guys got to eat way more and way better stuff. It’s funny because I feel like the people of ‘higher class’ haven’t really noticed us sitting over here. It’s one thing to hear the stats, but this really put everything into perspective.”

“This food is delicious and I feel super lucky to have gotten one of the few yellow tickets,” another student shared between bites of savory chicken. “But it’s hard for me to even enjoy the food. I did nothing to deserve this more than anybody else. It makes me realize how blessed and fortunate we are.”

Chad Ford wrapped up the night by sharing a few of his thoughts-

“We often minimize our blessings because other people have so much more. Wherever you are on the ladder, there’s someone higher up. And that’s what we tend to focus on. We always want bigger and better and more. But wherever you are on the ladder, there’s also someone further down. 22,000 children die of starvation every day. That’s the entire population of this side of the island. People die every day of diseases we never think about or have ever even heard of. We are so rich! We are so blessed! With blessings come great responsibility and accountability. Gifts are not for getting fat, hoarding, or living in luxury. Gifts are for giving and sharing.”

The Hunger Banquet served to not only open eyes, but to open hearts as well. Students left the McKay Center that night not just inspired to make a difference, but determined to be the difference themselves, taking Dr. Ford’s words to heart, that:

Our charge isn’t just to get on our knees and pray that God bless the hungry and the needy... Our charge is to get off our knees and recognize that God uses us to bless them.