URI library exhibition calls attention to hunger in R.I

Women Ending Hunger project to run throughout November

KINGSTON, R.I.-November 14, 2011- During November families get together, decorations warm the home, and pantries are stocked. However, many forget about the thousands of people struggling day-to-day just to put food on the table. The Rhode Island Community Food Bank, however, is making sure communities don’t ignore hunger.

All this month the Food Bank’s Women Ending Hunger volunteer group is presenting a Witness to Hunger exhibition in the front lobby of the Robert L. Carothers Library and Learning Commons at the University of Rhode Island. Four mothers from Rhode Island agreed to share their stories about experiencing food insecurities and hunger in their daily lives. Each woman was given a camera and asked to document their challenges as they struggled to keep themselves and their families fed.

The exhibit strives to make the abstract idea of hunger a very real, and tangible problem that many people face today. It includes photos and hard-hitting statements from the women who constantly battle to make ends meet.

“I make sure they eat. My kitchen is like my therapy, my comfort zone, my peace of mind. I don’t like to be sad when I’m cooking because I think it comes out in your food. But there have been times when there wasn’t enough food for me, my husband and my kids. I don’t tell them, I just act like I eat. I make especially sure my kids eat, and I make sure my husband eats because I know he works. We’ve had times when there was no food . . . you open the cabinet: nothing,” says Marie W. in one passage of the exhibit.

Free and open to the public, the exhibit is open during library hours, which are: Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m., Friday, 8a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday, 1 p.m to 2 a.m.

“Hunger [for these women] is a struggle to feed their families on a daily basis. Daily becomes weekly, weekly becomes monthly, and soon it becomes years of hunger,” explains Cindy Elder, director of communications for the Rhode Island Community Food Bank.

She joined Mary Ellen Grosvenor, major gifts manager for Women Ending Hunger and other volunteers to put together the exhibit that showcases these gripping stories.

According to Elder, of the 60,000 people the Rhode Island Community Food Bank serves, a third of them are children under the age of 18. The Women Ending Hunger group was founded to help minimize these numbers. They meet multiple times a year to focus on policy changes, issues of hunger and awareness, community outreach, and bettering the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly called the food stamp program.

Grosvenor expresses that “We’d like to have people recognize that there is a huge hunger problem in Rhode Island. This exhibit portrays a small example of people who don’t have what other people have.”

The exhibit began its journey around Rhode Island in 2010 at the Peerless Lofts Atrium in downtown Providence, and will remain at the University of Rhode Island’s library for the month of November.

Pictured above

One of the images from the Witness to Hunger exhibition at the Robert L. Carothers Library and Learning Commons on the Kingston Campus.

A mother and her child who struggle to put food on the table every week.