Wapsie Valley students experience "hunger" in poverty simulator
FAIRBANK (KWWL) -
Some Eastern Iowa students are learning what it's like to experience real hunger.
National FFA Organization students at Wapsie Valley High School in Fairbank conducted a poverty simulation Thursday, separating fellow students into "classes" to get a taste for the conditions people around the world deal with daily.
Those involved said it was a humbling, learning experience.
"I hope that many take away from it that hunger's out there and poverty's out there, and we need to reach out and help stop it," said Abrah Meyer, a Wapsie Valley FFA student.
At first glance, the cafeteria at Wapsie Valley High School didn't look unusual Thursday. But students at the school were given three different kinds of meals to experience upper-class, middle-class and lower-class living.
The upper class students enjoyed chicken and chocolate pie at an elegant table. Middle class students were served an ordinary school lunch at a regular lunch table. The lower class group had floor seating, and shared plates with only rice and beans.
"Some of the low class students are pretty upset they're sitting on the floor and feel they should be treated better," said Ellen Does, the Wapsie Valley FFA instructor. "Middle class feels they should be getting upper class with chicken, the fancier meal.
"But it's been a very positive experience, because it takes some maturity to be able to handle this, and our kids have been just awesome," she added.
Students had no idea the experiment was happening until they came to lunch Thursday.
As they ate, fellow students shared some startling statistics on how many people around the world live.
"Fifty percent of the world is in extreme poverty, and that's making $875 or less a year," Meyer said. "The severity is out there, and people don't know about it. So this is our opportunity to educate."
After hearing that, the initial feelings some students had about being slighted quickly went away.
"Definitely I'll try not to take things for granted as much anymore and really cherish what I have," said student Mitchell Boevers, who was put in the lower-class segment.
The "poor" students did get to eat a regular lunch after the experiment completed.
After eating lunch, students packed 20,000 meals that will be donated to five local food banks.
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