OGDEN -- At a dinner Monday night at Weber State University, nearly half of those in attendance were seated on the bare floor and received soup, bread and water for their meal.
Most of the other guests, who were seated on each side, got to sit at tables and eat pizza.
But a small percentage, just a handful of guests, sat at an elevated table and received an elegant dinner of lasagna and salad.
The event was organized by two AmeriCorps Volunteers in Service to America volunteers at WSU's Community Involvement Center. It was designed to raise awareness of Ogden's hungry residents.
"We're feeling guilty, very guilty," said Jean Robins, of Salt Lake City, who was there with her husband, Ralph. The two were among the few who were served the nicer meals.
"It's hard to enjoy it when you see the soup lines," Jean Robins said.
And those sentiments were just the point organizers were trying to make.
The Robinses' son, Jeffrey Robins, was one of those organizers.
The layout of the event was designed to represent Ogden, where according to census data, 44 percent of residents make $35,000 or less for individual and family units, said the other organizer, Noel Wilkinson.
He said that 44 percent of residents represent the working poor.
He said another 48 percent, roughly those who live in the north and south ends of town, make between $35,000 and $100,000 per family unit annually.
But, he said, those who live on the East Bench, about 8 percent of the population, often make $100,000 or more.
A video presented by the two event organizers outlined the average costs of various needs families encounter, such as housing, utilities, health insurance, transportation, food and child care.
The total of these average costs was higher than the poverty wage for a family.
The video asked participants to think about which expense they would go without.
Jeremy Botelho, case manager for Cottages of Hope, was one of several speakers at the event.
Botelho said a person's own behavior, level of understanding and personality can be real barriers that can keep him or her in poverty.
He said in his work, he helps people find ways to overcome these barriers and see their own way out of their situations.
He told a story of helping a man who had been homeless and in and out of jail for a decade find success one small step at a time.
Even though Botelho has worked with those in poverty for several years, he said he learned something Monday while sitting at the table designed to represent those who are wealthy.
He learned that, for those in poverty, the question they ask about food is, "Is there enough?"
For the middle class, he said the question is, "Does it taste good?"
And for the wealthy, he said, the question is, "How is it presented?"
Alexis Marquez, food pantry chairwoman at WSU, said she has seen how happy students get when they are offered two bags of groceries a week.
"There was a young gentleman who was literally ecstatic," she said. "He said for one month, all he had eaten was peanut butter and jelly sandwiches."
Karina Martin, volunteer and food program coordinator at Catholic Community Services and the Joyce Hansen Hall Food Bank in Ogden, said there are many opportunities for area residents to help those in need.
She invited residents to visit the food bank and volunteer to sort food or to work as intake people for those applying for help.
"We are serving over 2,000 households a month," she said. "That is up from 1,500 last year. That's likely because of tough economic times."
The event, which asked participants to donate nonperishable food items for admission, raised 586 pounds of food for the WSU food pantry.