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Deprivation Challenge Brings Global Poverty to the Forefront

The student chapter of Circle K at Northwood University Michigan recently held a week of relative deprivation to raise awareness about world hunger. Designed to provide students the opportunity to experience life in someone else's shoes for one week, the event challenged them to sustain themselves by living on about $1.50 or less of food per day.

"I created the Relative Deprivation Exercise a decade ago after witnessing firsthand incredible global poverty in over a dozen nations,” said Northwood University Adjunct Instructor Jim Johnson. “I knew that were I to merely provide students with photographs of hunger and statistics, the impact would not be lasting.  However, if they were to live for a week on the same amount as 1.4 billion people in the world live daily, they could then begin to ‘feel’ hunger and poverty.  I knew that would provide a lasting impact," said Johnson.

While students learned that one in six children in the United States reside in food insecure homes, they also discovered that distribution of food is the problem, not production as the global agricultural system produces enough food annually to provide every man, woman and child a 2,700 calorie a day diet. However, only a handful of multinational corporations control global agricultural distribution.

"I am proud of Circle K, the Student Government Association and individual students who elected to join me in this activity and to raise awareness.  The feedback has been tremendous and the media coverage most welcomed.  We will never be individually successful so long as we ignore the most vulnerable in our midst.  I look forward to building on our success this year and making Relative Deprivation even better in the 2015 academic year," added Johnson.

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