There are six billion people on the planet, and one in every seven goes to bed hungry.
Oxfam is a well-known, international organization that works toward fighting statistics like this and creating lasting solutions to poverty, hunger and injustice. Starting this semester, Elon students will be able to join in the fight, and help disempowered people receive a basic human right: food.
"One of the reasons I love this organization and was really drawn to it is that they're not just going in and giving aid," said Tylre Bigbie, club president. "They're looking at the roots and providing lasting, sustaining change. They pair with the community to create something that works for them."
Oxfam's latest campaign is called Grow and is the first campaign that all Oxfam branches are collaborating on to fight hunger.
"Oxfam believes it isn't because there's not enough food on the planet, but that our current food system is corrupt," Bigbie said.
This summer, Bigbie was introduced to Oxfam, attended leadership training and was challenged to bring her insight to Elon.
"Our main goal is educating the student body," she said.
Oxfam will host two on-campus awareness events this fall. The first on Oct. 13, when campus organizations such as Amnesty International and Periclean Scholars will host dinners that promote discussion about "where our food comes from, who's producing it and what we needto do to have a more just food system," Bigbie said. Oxfam placemats will be in the dining halls that day.
The second event, Oxfam Hunger Banquet, will be held Nov. 17, in conjunction with Homelessness Awareness Week. Each attendee will be given a card labeled upper, middle or lower class and the percentage of students representing each class is proportional to reality. Where students sit and eat depends on their class. The lower class will sit on the floor and will be served only rice and water. After the meal, there will be discussion.
"It's really powerful because it's a visual representation of what the world is," Bigbie said. "When I did it over the summer, half of the people in the room were crying because it was so impactful."
These issues will not just influence student life, but academics, as well. Bigbie approached Global Experience professors about Oxfam, and they're linking it to the classroom.
"The work of Oxfam connects with the common reading and lecture in interesting ways, and it is definitely related to the global themes of study, like disempowered people," said Mark Enfield, assistant professor of education and one of the many professors teaching Global Experience this semester. "Paying attention to the food system, and how do we get food, and should we be bringing it from a long distance and where does food come from? We should all be considering these questions."
The organization is looking to create a fundraiser related to the current food crisis in the Horn of Africa to be held later this semester.