Hunger Awareness in Shoafim

Throughout the course of the past week, the week of parashat eikev, adat HaShoafim has been working on a food awareness project in conjunction with one of the themes of the parashah, sustenance and hunger.  Based on the pasuk that speaks about God sustaining all creatures and providing food, the hanichim spent the past week bringing buckets to every meal to collect the food waste that they did not consume as a tzrif (bunk), and weighed it, keeping totals for every tzrif every meal.  At the end of the week, the hanichim (campers) were able to see, quantitatively, just how much food we waste in an average week.  The culmination of this project was a hunger banquet we conducted on Shabbat afternoon for peulat shabbat.  The tzevet (staff) laid out an abundant spread of food for the hanichim, but then divided the hanichim up into different socio-economic classes, allowing only for the upper class to eat — and overeat — while the lower class citizens had to watch, sit on the floor, and eat only crumbs of the feast that had been prepared.  In the discussion that ensued, the campers were able to put this activity into the context of their week of food awareness.  Discussions ranged from debates over our obligation as Jews to help fight world hunger to reflections on how our personal responses to the simulation we conducted translate into the world at large.  Many hanichim took it upon themselves to give out donations of their food from higher to lower classes, or even engaged in theft and/or begging from the lower class to the higher.  I was extraordinarily impressed by the mature level of insights that came from the hanichim, and I see it as a sign that they will be able to bring this experience with them into their daily lives beyond camp.

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