Table scraps 

Feeding everyone in the University Center's Ballroom for the Thursday, Nov. 17, Hunger Banquet probably cost less than most catered meals for 150 people. That's because the diners were there to "eat as the world eats," which meant 60 percent of the attendees got only rice for dinner, while another 25 percent got broth with their rice.

Not everyone got the budget banquet, though. About a dozen diners sat at two tablecloth-covered tables that had been placed in front of the hundred or so people sitting on the floor eating rice. The favored participants at the tables represented us-most of us, anyway-the rich people of the world who live on more than ,075 per year.

The four-course dinner of privilege was complete but not extravagant. Still, their salad and soup courses, as well as their chicken, pasta and green beans entreés, looked good in comparison to disposable cups full of rice. And the chocolate-drizzled cheesecake garnished with a strawberry served for dessert, well, that seemed the item most likely to engender societal upheaval, though in the end it didn't stir up much.

That's not to say that class boundaries weren't breached. Two rich diners got up in the middle of the meal and tried to give away the salad and soup they weren't finishing. No one sitting on the floor seemed to want the scraps, but eventually two people took the food. A few minutes later, their neighbors on the floor were eating it.

Why the moment of magnanimity? One of the women who surrendered her food reported being moved by the video presentation that played during dinner: "They said we had the power to change the world so we gave away our food."

According to the rich folks' server, leftover food was pretty common, though the fact that he saw it seems to indicate that alms-giving was not. At the end of dinner, he said about half the food that was served got eaten, "about average" for a catered meal.

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