FREEPORT — Visitors sitting down to dinner at the Community Center on May 3 will not get equal portions to enjoy.
That’s the point of the Community Meal being organized by seniors at Freeport High School to raise money for the local food pantry and international aid agency Oxfam.
“With this dinner, we’re going to bring a lot of important information to everyone who attends, as well as providing food and entertainment to bring the town together,” student Gabe Currier said.
For $8, diners will enjoy student-made meals of chicken, chili, vegan tortilla soup, salad and bread. Most of them will just get rice for starters, because the dinner menu reflects economic disparities studied through the year by students in Dana Anderson’s Advanced Placement English class.
“It will be interesting to observe how people react when they expect a standard portion size, but instead receive an under- or over-sized portion of food,” student Jared Knighton said.
“I am excited to take my homework and school work further and I am taking initiative because I am passionate about my topic. I think that it has also made our class more exciting and interesting because I get to see what my classmates are interested in,” student Mia Thomas said about the reading and discussions leading to the banquet supper.
About 15 students were assigned research topics eventually woven together for discussions students will lead at the banquet. Subjects including the causes of an economic crash, teen pregnancy, the diet industry and eating disorders and the rights of Muslim women.
The food pantry in the Community Center will be a direct beneficiary from the banquet, at a time when staff said they need all the help they can get.
Sue Mack, Community Center Family Services Coordinator, said support from local businesses and grocers allows the pantry to open from Monday through Thursday and clients to visit weekly.
Donations of produce, meats and baked goods are supplemented by purchases from the Auburn-based Good Shepherd Food Bank, but Mack said need among Freeport and Pownal residents continues to increase.
Pantry manager Julie Fraser said an average of 303 adults and 96 children were served weekly last month, almost 1,600 people getting assistance intended to supplement household expenses.
Mack said the pantry also delivers to some clients, tries to stock basic toiletries and had added some items to help families with food allergies.
Down the hall from the pantry, visitors to the Oxfam banquet will also be served food for thought. Students have made ceramic platters and topical place mats designed to encourage the mealtime discussions.
Diners drawing initial small rations of rice will be allowed second helpings from the entire menu. The banquet will also feature student musical performances and members of Anderson’s class will be interviewed by their peers in arts classes.
Tickets for the 6 p.m. dinner will be available at the door. The Freeport Community Center is at 53 Depot St.
Freeport Community Center Food Pantry volunteer Betty Clark helps fill orders for clients of the pantry. Staffers say support from local businesses and grocers helps stock shelves, but demand continues to increase. A May 3 benefit dinner organized by Freeport High School seniors will raise money for the pantry and Oxfam.
Freeport students Jared Knighton, left, and Josh Weirich sculpt platters for the May 3 banquet to raise money for Oxfam and the Freeport Community Center Food Pantry. For $8, diners will enjoy a meal at the Community Center, but will initially be served inequitable portions to highlight global economic disparities.