On Saturday September 22, eleven members of the student organization Oxfam America at Grinnell attended the 10th annual World Food Festival in downtown Des Moines. The festival featured forty vendors offering a taste of international cuisine, thirty varieties of beers and wines from around the world, a mix of local and cultural entertainment and instructional cooking demos.

Grinnell student representatives had the chance to indulge in some interesting sounding foods—Pholourie (Caribbean), Riz Bil Jaj (Mesopotamian), Sukiyaki with beef (Japanese), Stroopwafel (Dutch), Vegetable Chaat (Indian) and Pierogies (Russian). There was also the standard American fare of hot dogs and hamburgers for those unready to venture out of their culinary comfort zones.

In addition to indulging in international eats, members of Oxfam America at Grinnell were able to volunteer at the Oxfam America Iowa Action Corps booth, with the assistance of the Office of Community Service. The World Food Festival was an opportunity for Oxfam America to spread their message about poverty and world hunger as part of their “Grow Campaign,” which is committed to fighting world hunger and bringing about food justice through a rights-based approach.

According to the Oxfam website,  “companies and governments control the global food system—and they often determine who eats and who doesn’t.” Oxfam is working with key governments, corporations, civil society groups and affected communities in order to bring positive long-term changes.”

“We did arts and crafts with little kids [and] helped them draw pictures of a meal that they would share with someone who was hungry. We also went around the festival getting signatures for a petition that asks the government to take action in order to reduce world hunger,” said Danielle Chorne ’16. “There is enough food to go around, it’s just wasted and not distributed properly…also in developing countries, if there isn’t a means to preserve food it will probably go bad before it gets to the consumer.”

If you want to help make a difference, there are five things that Oxfam encourages people to do in their daily lives—don’t waste food, eat local and seasonally, support small farmers worldwide, eat less meals and cook smart. A small change can make a big impact.

Another way you can help is to join the student organization Oxfam America at Grinnell.

“The club began last year under the name Hearts Against Hunger and Homelessness. Following a summer Oxfam America Change Leadership program that I completed in Boston, we have transitioned into becoming an official Oxfam Club this year in order to gain the institutional support of this well-respected NGO in our efforts,” said founder Leah Lucas ’14. “We work to promote Oxfam’s campaigns in addition to directing volunteers to MICA in town.”

Last year, the club brought Keith McHenry, cofounder of Food Not Bombs, to campus to give a speech and organized an end-of-year food drive that raised over 500 pounds. for MICA. This year the club has much more activities and events planned, including World Food Day.

“We are really revving up for World Food Day, which is celebrated on October 16,” Lucas said. “We are leading a number of activities on campus, like our World Food Day Dinner, scheduled for October 17. We are really excited because World Food Prize lecturer, David Beckmann, will be attending this dinner.”

For more information about Oxfam, come to the meetings Saturdays at 2 p.m. in the JRC, contact Leah Lucas, or shoot [oxfam] an email to join their email list.