The Hunger Project is technically a separate legal entity, but in fact it functions as a recruitment arm for est. The experience of Hunger Project volunteers confirms this. From the moment she first went to the Project's offices in San Francisco as a volunteer, reported Lori Lieberman of the Center for Investigative Reporting, members of the Project staff concentrated on recruiting her to est. "I was greeted by Tracy Apple [a local Hunger Project staff and est graduate]," she recounts, "who immediately asked me whether or not I had undergone the est training. When I said I had not, she reassured me that that was okay, but that it 'would be easier for you to work around the office if you do take the training because we use a different language and different ways of communicating around esties.' Pressure to take the est training continued throughout my five-hour stay. I discovered only one other person among the 20 or 30 people that I encountered to be a non-est graduate. She was an office worker. And as I was sitting in the bathroom, I heard two other women office workers harassing her because she had worked at the Hunger Project for a month and still refused to take the training. They said she was 'uncooperative, closed-minded and had a narrow perspective.' I was later asked to provide my car to chauffeur some out-of-town est officials around the city several days later."I was also struck," Lieberman adds, "by the emphasis on Werner Erhard. Everything was 'Werner says.' When I expressed confusion to someone about the way the Xerox machine worked, she explained that I 'really ought to study this machine because Werner says we all ought to get clear about how machinery works so that it doesn't control us.' "Another Center for Investigative Reporting staffer volunteering at the Hunger Project described a similar experience. The effort to pressure him into taking the est training, says Dan Noyes, was as important as Hunger Project business: "When asked Tracy Apple if est was important, she said 'I personally recommend it, but it's not essential. It will help you understand the Hunger Project and the man who created it. T's the greatest thing that ever happened to me.' Although she was careful to say that est was not essential to the Hunger Project, she then proceeded to pressure me to sign up for the two-weekend seminar, saying it cost $300. She asked me when I had a free weekend and sat down to call and find out when the dates of the next Bay Area sessions were. I said I would think about it."The next time I came in, I saw Tracy Apple. After saying hello, the first thing she asked was 'Have you decided about your training yet?' She told me that I had to have the $300 enrollment fee by the next day. She called to arrange for me to go down and enroll. When I went to a special est guest seminar the next week, I was surprised to see that it began jointly with a Hunger Project seminar. My general impression was that there was no difference between the two." Hunger Project staffers expended so much energy trying to get Noyes to join est that they neglected to collect his Hunger Project enrollment card or to convince him to contribute time or money to the Project.Such pressure in recruiting new est members comes as no surprise to anyone familiar with the organization. Est has monthly enrollment quotas and staffers are put under enormous pressure to fill them. "Werner once put out a list of ways to recruit people to est," explains one disillusioned former est staffer. "You would not believe the lengths staffers were asked to go to get people in the training. F someone called est by mistake, you know, a wrong number, you were supposed to not hang up but to try to recruit him. You were supposed to recruit your lover, your mate, your friends, your family, the milkman or paper boy. It was incredible." According to another former staff member, Werner explained the purpose of the Hunger Project as that of increasing enrollments in the est training.
It takes quite an penchant for indifferent to one's fellow human beings to exploit hunger for one's own ends. Speaking of that, go now and read the NY Times magazine article on Plumpy'nut.