The Kenai Peninsula Food Bank's Fantasy Feast at the Soldotna Senior Center last week turned out to be a taste of reality and an experience in awareness that no one was expecting.
Program Creator and departing Executive Director Peggy Moore had been working on the idea for several years, but had kept everyone in the dark about the evening's events until just before dinner was served. As those who had purchased the $50 tickets arrived, they were asked to choose a poker chip from a bag. The chips had a letter of the alphabet printed on them and were either white, blue or red. Depending on which color chip was drawn, the guests were seated either at candle-lit tables with white linen, tables with blue plastic coverings, or tables with no table clothes and red plastic cups.
According to Moore, the different tables represented the economic divisions on the Kenai Peninsula and the meals reflected what those families might be dining on that evening. Those representing the percentage of upper income families were served prime rib and wine, the middle range, tuna casserole and beer, and the lower income, beans, rice and water.
Shortly after the meal began a whistle blew and the emcee for the evening, Merrill Sikorski, interrupted everyone to announce a scenario that had just happened to the person with the letter M on his or her chip. Guests found themselves moving from white to blue tables and from blue to red tables because of the scenarios that represented true-life circumstances that occur in our community. "It caused us to think about how uncertain our quality of life really is," remarked one guest. Another said, "For the first time I realized that those who need the food bank today may be in a position to give me a job tomorrow. Things can change for all of us, but as a community, if we all work together to help each other, we'll be okay."
After the three interruptions, everyone enjoyed champagne and a delicious desert as they discussed the experience. Many attending the sold-out event remarked that they had never been to such a program, but were glad to have had the experience.
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