Members from Turlock High School’s Future Farmers of America club were in for a surprise when their Fall Feast turned into a realistic lesson on world hunger by mayor-elect Gary Soiseth.
“We want to get FFA organizations to focus on world hunger and inform students of the need that exists in the world,” said THS FFA advisor Joe DiGrazia. “This event will help them understand how other people in the world live.”
FFA members who attended the Fall Feast on Thursday were given one of three colored tickets, which corresponded to where they would be seated in the cafeteria. Later, students learned that the color of their tickets also symbolized what percent of the world they belonged in and how much food they would receive for the feast.
Representing first world countries, 10 percent of students were given a full place setting at a table, which included a table cloth, utensils, napkins, and a bouquet of flowers. These students were given a full meal, along with unlimited drink refills.
Representing second world countries, 30 percent of students were seated at a table to eat a meal which only consisted of a piece of meat and a vegetable. Their food was served on a paper plate and they were only given a fork for their utensils.
However, a majority of students found themselves sitting on the cafeteria floor with only rice and water. These students represented third world countries, which includes 60 percent of the world. No utensils or refills were provided.
Once students were served their respective meals, Soiseth stepped in to talk about his time in Afghanistan working in agricultural production from 2009 to 2013. During the four years he spent there, Soiseth worked with farmers who were too afraid to go into the orchards or work with the United States out of fear of improvised explosive devices or the insurgency.
“I sat here at Turlock High School just like you and years later I found myself in the hills of Afghanistan working with farmers,” said Soiseth. “I knew how to grow almonds and I knew agriculture, so I decided that I would not just go back to my farm, but would go and make an impact on the global community.”
When Soiseth asked the students who represented third world countries if they thought it was fair that all of the extra food left from first and second world countries got thrown out, he was met with a loud and resounding “no.”
“You guys are called Future Farmers of America, but honestly you can do so much more than that,” said Soiseth. “I want you to take what you’ve learned today and make an impact.”
After Soiseth’s speech and with the severity of world hunger imprinted in the minds of all FFA members, the real Fall Feast commenced. To hungry students’ relief, THS FFA revealed that they actually had enough food for everyone.
“Hopefully this event opened their eyes up to how fortunate and blessed they are,” said DiGrazia. “I hope it stirred some interest in their heart and makes them realize that they can give more, especially during the holiday season.”