Days of hunting and gathering for this one meal and even then it would be a poor substitution for the Capitol version.
When Katniss experiences the quality of life in the Capitol, including the constant availability of rich and delicious foods, it puts the dire circumstances of District 12 in stark relief. An average dinner for Capitol residents is an unimaginable feast for people of the outlying districts – in fact, even if they prepared for days to imitate the Capitol’s feasts, their effort could not produce anything near that level of luxury. This decadence shows Katniss that there is more than enough food in Panem to feed her starving people, but resources are simply not being distributed equally.
District 12. Where you can starve to death in safety.
With this bit of dark humor, Katniss comments on the illusion of peace that the Capitol has cultivated. The residents of District 12 are severely policed, even executed for illegal hunting, the creation of weapons, and other perceived acts of insurgence against the state. In exchange for this submission, the Capitol supposedly protects them from the horrors of the outside world and the chaos of nuclear apocalypse. And yet, the poverty-stricken people of District 12 are constantly threatened by starvation. This begs the question: does the Capitol really protect its people?
Say you are poor and starving as we were. You can opt to add your name more times in exchange for tesserae.
Under the current system in Panem, poor children can buy a year’s worth of supplies such as grain by submitting their names to the Hunger Games raffle – this is in addition to the number of times their names have been submitted based on their age. Both Katniss and Gale have submitted their names several additional times in exchange for food that they need for survival. The Capitol exploits the desperation of its citizens by allowing extra rations in exchange for something that benefits and maintains its oppressive system – a higher likelihood that the very child who lived off of those rations is reaped and killed in the Hunger Games.
All year, the Capitol will show the winning districts gifts of grain and oil and even delicacies like sugar while the rest of us battle starvation.
The Capitol is in possession of resources that could feed all of the poverty-stricken people of the lesser districts, but it does not distribute these resources fairly. The Capitol’s resource management is calculated – it serves to keep the districts disenfranchised and in submission to the system. Lesser districts like 12 remain weak, unhealthy, and powerless, constantly distracted from injustice by their more critical need to survive. Meanwhile, districts that train their children from birth to succeed in the Games are rewarded time and time again with sustenance. This reinforces that those who accept and work within the system created by the Capitol will reap rewards for their obedience.
You’ve both successfully overcome the barbarism of your district.
Effie Trinket speaks these insensitive and ironic words when she explains to Katniss and Peeta how she attempted to attract sponsors for them. Katniss rightfully notes how angering it is to hear Effie refer to Katniss’s district as barbaric – when really it is simply poor and over-policed – while the residents of the Capitol enjoy watching an annual bloodbath between children. Effie’s shallow understanding of the world causes her to equate appearance with morality and civility. She believes the Capitol to be civilized due to its outer wealth and beauty, unable to see that its moral poverty is far more barbaric than District 12’s material poverty.