Community Invited to Take a Chance at CMHS Hunger Games

The students of the Calais Middle-High School's Student Councils and National Honor Society are inviting the public to attend the annual Hunger Games on April 9th. Attendees will take a chance at landing in one of six socioeconomic tiers with an appropriate meal served at each station. (Photo by Lura Jackson)

By Lura Jackson

 

“Hunger” is very much a relative concept – we may feel hungry as we anticipate our third meal of the day, or we may feel hungry when we haven’t had a full meal in days. For some of us, hunger may be somewhere in between – it may linger even after we’ve finished everything we had available to eat for any given meal. As a community without an abundance of financial or food resources, the degrees of hunger that are present in any given household in Eastern Washington County are dramatic. To bring awareness to this situation, and to help alleviate it, the students of Calais Middle High School are preparing to hold the 6th annual Hunger Games on Monday, April 9th.

While it bears the namesake of the popular series, the CMHS Hunger Games do not involve a literal battle to the death. There are some similarities, however – guests that come to the event begin their evening by reaching into a bag to recover a stone. The color of the stone indicates what table diners will be seated at, with six potential tiers.

Each tier is associated with a different socioeconomic status, and the meals served are intended to reflect that. The students, acting as servers, will also be appropriately dressed according to their assigned tiers. The top tier – which will be attended to by students in their finest attire and treated to a meal created by the Culinary Arts students of the St. Croix Regional Technical Center [SCRTC] – stands in sharp contrast to the lowest tier, to which students in their everyday clothing will provide more common fare. Last year, the top tier received lobster tails and filet mignon while in previous years the lowest tier has dined on cheese sandwiches, ramen noodles, and snack cakes.

“It gives you the disparaging comparison all in one room, from one end all the way to the other,” explained faculty advisor Anne Scott of the impact of the event. “You see it all right there in the same room, the haves and have nots.”

“You need to see it to really visualize it,” concurred student Dylan Carrier. “It gives people a real understanding of poverty and what the socioeconomic statuses of people here in Washington County are.”

The tiers in between the top and the bottom will be served meals from area restaurants, including pizza from Nino’s, tacos from the Schooner, and hot dogs and macaroni and cheese from Karen’s. Other restaurants that have supported the event in the past and may again include New Friendly Restaurant, Ceaser’s, Crumbs and Nook and Cranny, among others. In every case, the business provides the meals at no cost to the event – enabling all of the money raised by ticket sales to be donated to the Irene Chadbourne Ecumenical Food Pantry.

“We couldn’t do this without the support of these local businesses,” said advisor Lori Ellis. She said that when she travels to attend conferences, she often gets asked about the event. “They can’t believe that we serve one hundred meals and we don’t pay for anything or cook anything ourselves. Without the generosity of these local businesses we could not do that.” There are two people in particular that have helped every single year: Husa Egan, Director of the Culinary Arts program of SCRTC and John Marchese, who came forward last year to provide close to fifty meals when other businesses dropped out.

If you’ve never been to the CMHS Hunger Games, this is a good year to it. There will be music performed by the CHS Jazz band, Cassidy Carr, and others, speakers will include students Dylan Carrier and Kylie Donovan and Lenny Hanson of the Irene Chadbourne Ecumenical Food Pantry, and a new lottery system will enable guests to take a chance at changing their seats.

Tickets are available now from students or by reserve by phoning the Calais High School at 454-2591 and providing the number of guests that will be coming. Donations of canned and dry goods will be accepted between now and April 13th at the school, all of which will be presented to the pantry along with a check from the ticket sales.