Dining Services Director Bill Canney said yesterday that the University is seriously considering ending the World Fast for Hunger campus charity drive because students on meal plan are unhappy with the program. Some said they felt inconvenienced because McClelland Express, the snack bar in the Quadrangle, was closed Thursday night as part of the event. But a more serious flaw has been found within the program -- only a fraction of the price of the meals students gave up for the charity was actually donated to the cause. The University's 15th annual Fast was part of Hunger and Homelessness Week, co-sponsored by the Penn Volunteer Network and Dining Services. Students who gave up meals last Thursday raised money for Oxfam America, an international hunger relief organization. The program raised about $1,100 for the charity this year, according to Canney. But Oxfam only received an average of $3.87 for each of the 284 participants. According to Canney, $2.51 per participant was donated to Oxfam for a lunch, $3.65 was donated for a dinner, and $6.16 was donated for a combined lunch and dinner pledge. Standard prices of meals on different meal plans range from $5.57 per meal on the 15-meal per week plan, to $10.25 per meal on the plan that allows students to eat any five meals per week. Canney said he could not donate the full price of meals because of fixed costs that still must be paid regardless of how many students eat. "There's still electricity being paid and labor that's still there," Canney said. "It's based on the plate cost -- the cost of the food that an average student would consume in a meal." College and Engineering sophomore Tali Vardi said she is upset that only some of her donated meal will benefit the hungry. "If I was donating the meal, I was expecting that it would go to all of the charity," she said. College sophomore Gwen Baron said she felt she had been tricked. "I was misled into thinking that all of the money was donated to charity," she said. "If I had known how little money was donated then I never would have done it. There are other, better ways to help the homeless." Canney said he began considering eliminating the Fast after students complained when McClelland Express was closed Thursday night because of the program. "It was like people were saying, 'Is Dining trying to rip us off?' " he said. "I'm beginning to think that World Fast is a no-win program." Canney said he may replace the fund-raising campaign next year with an educational role-playing game sponsored by Oxfam called "Hunger Banquet," a program in which the University had participated before it began the Fast fund-raising campaign. If Canney decides to enact the program next year, up to 200 students will be able to sign up for the activity in advance and the participants will be divided into three groups -- the First World, the Second World and the Third World. The First World students will enjoy a first-class meal served restaurant-style, complete with candlelight and violin players. The Second World students will engage in the normal buffet-style meal, and the Third World students will sit on the floor and eat beans and rice out of pots and pans. The activity is aimed to teach students what it is like to live in other cultures and socioeconomic standings. Canney said that when the University held a "hunger banquet" while he was the manager of Stouffer Dining Commons, the activity taught a lesson but also raised discord among students. "Students chosen for the Third World were very upset that they didn't get filet mignon and candlelight," he said. Canney added that if adopted, the activity would probably take place the Thursday before Thanksgiving and would be accompanied by a guest speaker.Comments powered by Disqus
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