BHSU students recently organized a Hunger for Humanity Banquet as a project for their Early Childhood Development course. The class’s final project had a goal of making a difference in the lives of children.
Hans Nelson needed the final project for his Early Childhood Development course to “make a difference” – a plan that would affect the lives of children.

Nelson, along with fellow classmates, felt a Hunger Banquet would not only bring awareness to the global hunger problem, but also shed light on the problem locally.

Nelson, who took the class to renew his teaching certificate, decided on the idea after traveling with Up with People, a nonprofit global education organization.

“While traveling with the group, we held various Hunger Banquets as part of our experiential learning activities,” Nelson said.

Over the past five years, Nelson has helped organize eight banquets worldwide. “It was a dream of mine to do one back home in Spearfish,”he said.

More than 40 people attended the Hunger for Humanity Banquet organized by Nelson; Amara Stanley, elementary education major from Belle Fourche; Valerie Samuelson, elementary education major from St. Onge; Patti Schladwieller, from Spearfish; and Brooke Grant, elementary education major from Chadron, Neb.

“The Hunger Banquet was a huge success largely due to the students’ efforts to go beyond the boundaries of the BHSU campus and involve people from surrounding communities,” according to Dr. Vicki Linn, instructor of education at BHSU.

Prior to the event, the students researched hunger, homelessness, and poverty at the global, regional, and community level. The information was shared with participants, Linn said. “Many participants stated that they were shocked that hunger is such a pervasive issue that negatively impacts people of all ages across the globe including children and adults in their home community.”

The group created invites, planned the food menu, found a facility, organized the material and statistics for the presentation, and then made sure people attended, Nelson said. He said it was great working with his classmates, all who come from different spectrums in the “education world” and brought different perspectives to the banquet.

Stanley and Grant are both traditional students while Nelson, Samuelson, and Schladwieller are students returning to renew teaching certificate, get an early childhood endorsement or earn a teaching certificate.

Hunger Banquets were designed by Oxfam America, a global awareness organization, and provide a dramatization of hunger around the world, Nelson said. Guests learn about poverty and hunger on a local and global level, he said.

“This was a wonderful event and the people who came left with an impression on their minds and on their hearts,” Nelson said. “People are now aware of not only the poverty and hunger around the world, but also the reality of life for kids and families right here in the Northern Hills area.”

The group received local donations from Safeway, Walgreens and Guadalajara’s, and partnered with the Black Hills Association for the Educationof Young Children to hold a fundraising bake sale. The money raised from the bake sale went toward purchasing groceries and other supplies for the event.

Nelson said the goal of the event was to bring awareness to the hunger problem, but also to promote some organizations that people can get involved with locally, regionally and globally. Organizations promoted during the event included the Weekend Backpack program through the Spearfish School District, Rapid City Cornerstone Mission and Look Development Ethiopia, a child sponsorship program. The Weekend Backpack, a program through the Black Hills United Way, provides backpacks of food that are sent home with kids who might not have a steady meal over the weekend.

Nelson wants the Hunger for Humanity event to be a preview for the annual spring Hunger Banquet sponsored by the Multicultural Committee, Sociology Club, English Club, and International Student Organization.