Rich Man Poor Man Dinner: Food for Thought

April 25, 2012 at 4:11 pm

Have you ever been hungry? I mean really starving? In all likelihood, probably not. 

However, world-wide, over 852 million people do not have enough food to meet their basic nutritional needs.

About 1/3 of the world’s population do not meet their intellectual potential because of vitamin and mineral deficiencies.

Last week, the issue of food security was driven home to more than 150 students, faculty and staff who came out to support a unique dining experience in Brodie Atrium.

Organized by students in the Faculty of Medicine, the Rich Man Poor Man dinner emphasized global inequalities of food consumption.

At every table of 8, one person was randomly selected to receive an extravagant meal, while the other 7 guests received a meal representative of what 90 % of the world eats.

Sipping bean soup with a piece of bread and a small serving of rice gave those of us who were recipients of the Poor Man dinner a tiny glimpse into the reality of what most people on earth survive on.

We also heard about the unequal distribution of resources around the globe and how this contributes to global and local poverty.

When Winnipeg Harvest opened in 1985, it was thought to be a temporary fix that would be closed by 1995. Unfortunately, that was not to the case.

Welfare rates have not increased in 20 years but obviously food bank use has risen, noted David Northcott, executive director and co-founder of Winnipeg Harvest, “If it’s justice food or charity food, I don’t care – it’s food and that’s what we’re helping tonight,” he told the audience.

Jim Cornelius executive director of Canadian Foodgrains Bank, spoke of access to food as a “freedom, a human right” pointing to hunger as one of the greatest challenges the world now faces. He urged attendees to work towards eradicating food inequity.

Student organizers Christine Yurkowski (Med II) and Yael Shrom (Med I) shared some startling local facts: More than 55,000 Manitobans receive food from food banks each month. Last year, Winnipeg Harvest moved more than 11 million pounds of food through their warehouse.

We, as a faculty, take great pride in teaching our medical students to be compassionate, competent physicians…but these students have much to teach us about being caring citizens locally and globally. And the importance of supporting our local food bank and making a difference to countless people’s lives.

All proceeds from Rich Man Poor Man dinner went to Winnipeg Harvest and a Faculty of Medicine food drive took place in conjunction with the event.

What should we be doing as a faculty to address the issue of food inequity?