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  Students learn how rest of the world celebrates Thanksgiving  
  Kansas City, MO    
November 19, 2010

A group of students, faculty, staff and family members received an up-close-and-personal look at how much of the world eats recently when the Avila Student Social Work Association (SSWA) sponsored a special dining experience Nov. 15 in the Marian Center dining hall.

A group of about 30 participants divided into three sub-groups. One small group of about six was labeled "Food Secure-High Income" and received a sumptuous meal of chicken parmesan, salad and apple pie. A second group was tagged "Moderately Food Secure" and was fed beans and rice while sitting on chairs. The third group was "Food Insecure-Low Income." Those people sat on the floor and ate small cups of white rice with water.

Julie Bernhardt, a senior social work student, was instrumental in organizing the event including inviting guest speaker Jim French from Oxfam America. Other notable participants at the event included Charlene Gould, dean of Avila's College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, social work faculty Lindee Petersen Wilson and Donna Devine, and David Armstrong, campus minister.

As the groups ate their meals, student volunteers read them information on world poverty, including statistics on world hunger.

The exercise to show how most of the world's people eat – in America alone, 49.1 million live in food insecurity, 852 million worldwide – was inspired in part by social work student Jake Baldwin, who had experienced a similar exercise at his previous school.

"When I was a student at Longview Community College, I went to something just like this," Baldwin said. "The whole thing was eye-opening. I think everyone did a wonderful job this time and we hope to carry it over to next year."

Donations were collected for the event from participants in the form of cash or canned goods, which will be given to a local food bank.

Elaine Wright, chair of the social work department and SSWA advisor assisted the club members with putting together the event and gave students extra credit for coming and for bringing someone with them.

"The value is to learn to appreciate our place in the world and understand the place of others," Wright said, "and, to challenge ourselves to take action toward the well-being of all people."


About Avila University
Avila University is a private, co-educational, values-based liberal arts institution founded by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, offering undergraduate, graduate, and adult degree programs. Avila University is located at 119th and Wornall Rd in southwest suburban Kansas City, Mo.