Article and Photos By A.J. Sandoval

On Wednesday evening, a line out the door of The Commons for the Hunger for Knowledge dinner showed more than 75 tickets days had been sold prior to the event.

The Hunger for Knowledge dinner, an annual event, serves as a fundraiser for The Volunteer Center of Grant County.   This is the fifth year that The Volunteer Center has partnered with Western New Mexico University Sociology classes to create this fundraising event.  Dr. Emma Bailey’s Social Inequality and Sociology of Food students planned and hosted the event. 

Students aimed to educate the public with sobering facts and statistics on hunger.  The event started out with Wheel of Misfortune, which highlighted some statistics and facts around food insecurity in our country, state and local community.  The students also hosted a version of Jeopardy with similar facts in the answers.  In between the game shows, “commercials” highlighted the work of The Volunteer Center.

Guests were seated in a class, to which they were assigned at random.  The different classes from under class to working poor and upper class ate different food from different menus and servers treated them differently. A private server presented food to those in the upper class section. They also had options, such as champagne and fine baked goods from which to choose. The lower classes ate rice-and-bean dinners, with no options, and had slower service. This has been an effective way of showing guests the differences that exist in our society around food access.  Many go home from the dinner still hungry for more than knowledge.

This month the Volunteer Center served 128 families at its food pantry distribution, which is up from 60 families in June. The Volunteer Center expects 200 families to show up at the distribution at the end of this month.  

New Mexico ranks second in the nation for food insecurity with 41 percent of hungry families having someone working full time. In Grant County 25 percent of seniors live below the poverty line. The Food Pantry accepts food donations. It also accepts monetary donations and prefers money, as TVC can provide more food for Grant County through supplier discounts, receiving more food with a dollar donation than they would from a food donation.

This year’s Hunger for Knowledge dinner raised $1885 in just ticket sales and other donations are being tallied, too. The Volunteer Center has been committed to working on relieving hunger and poverty in Grant County for more than five years. The center operates with more than 20,000 volunteer hours and is not dependent on one source of funding to keep operations going.  Volunteers and donations are always welcomed at The Volunteer Center and it wants to continue work on alleviating hunger as the holiday season begins.  The Commons can be found at 501 E. 13th St. Call 388-2988 to donate, volunteer or to obtain more information.
Photo 1 Line at the Door
Photo 2 Guest spinning the Wheel of Misfortune with host Jory Bascom and assistant Kisha Marquez
Photo 3 WNMU Student Dwayne Michell taking dinner orders
Photo 4  Professor Emma Bailey thanks the volunteers for the event.

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