Though students weren’t pitted against each other in a televised fight to the death, they experienced their own version of the Hunger Games on Monday.

At the University’s Muslim Student Association’s 11th annual Fast-A-Thon event, titled “The Real Hunger Games,” members worked to fundraise and raise awareness of global and local hunger on campus and in the Ann Arbor area.

At 4:45 p.m., about 380 students broke their fast that lasted from sunrise to sunset on Monday with a feast of traditional Mediterranean food. Throughout the meal, ravenous participants engaged in lively table discussions on hunger and food equity issues while food justice activist Sheelah Muhammad delivered an address about hunger in Chicago and spoken-word artist Zain Shamoon performed at the Rackham Amphitheater.

MSA president Zeinab Khalil, an LSA junior, said the event was designed to educate members of the University community about food disparities.

“This year our goal is to raise awareness about the issues of hunger and food justice, which are pressing problems in the metro-Detroit community, but don’t receive much awareness,” Khalil said. “We hope to bring together the campus community to discuss these issues because we believe all people should have easy, consistent access to wholesome and affordable food.

Khalil added that the experience of fasting for an entire day serves as an eye-opening, enlightening glimpse into the greater issues of the community.

“Fast-A-Thon is a way to bring together people from all across campus to humble ourselves for a day and break out of our routines. It’s a way to remind us of our common humanity and connections to others,” Khalil said.

In the spirit of raising local awareness about hunger, MSA donated all proceeds of Fast-A-Thon to Forgotten Harvest, an organization that aims to reduce hunger in metro Detroit by obtaining surplus prepared and perishable food and reallocating it to emergency food providers.

LSA sophomore Betul Tatar, the MSA community service co-chair, said she chose Forgotten Harvest as the event’s charity to further educate the community about the imminence of hunger in its own backyard.

“This year, we chose Forgotten Harvest because hunger is a big issue that we don’t really realize in our own metro-Detroit area,” Tatar said. “One in five are hungry in the Detroit area, which is a huge number.”

LSA freshman Syed Ferdous, a member of MSA’s Community Service Committee, said he believes the act of fasting is a humbling experience.

“It’s just getting back to my roots; it instills a sense of solidarity with the Detroit-area poor, and it also renews a sense of humility within me,” Ferdous said. “I’m given everything pretty much. These people, they struggle to put a plate of food on the table every day.”

University students who aren’t members of MSA also participated in Fast-A-Thon and they said they also gained vast perspective from the fasting experience.

LSA junior Eryn Smith said though she has traveled to India and Nicaragua and seen poverty firsthand, being part of Fast-A-Thon gave her a new perspective of her experiences.

“I feel more compassion to people who are facing hunger, and (I want) to do more to help,” Smith said.

LSA junior Katie Brill echoed Smith’s sentiments, and said it made her grateful for her personal opportunities and abilities.

“Whenever I’m fasting, it’s a really good time to reflect and think about day-to-day life and how lucky I am that I can get access to food every day,” Brill said.

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