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Mothers Bring Photographs Stories of Poverty to Nations Leaders

May 5, 2009

Forty women. Forty cameras. One purpose: to end child hunger. This is the theme of a powerful exhibition by the Drexel University School of Public Health that provided an opportunity for 40 Philadelphia mothers living in poverty to show the dire circumstances they face every day. The women were given cameras to document their daily struggles living in urban poverty.

At the invitation of Sen. Bob Casey Jr., (D-PA), the exhibition, called “Witnesses to Hunger” will be on display in the Russell Senate Office Building Rotunda from May 4 - 8, 2009. A group of 25 mothers will travel to Washington to meet with Casey and other national officials to share their stories and photographs of life in American poverty. The group will meet with Casey on May 6 at 11:30 a.m. in room 562 of the Dirksen Building. The mothers will be available for interviews during this meeting. More than 6,000 photographs taken by the women show a desolate collage of run-down homes and kitchens in disrepair. They also show family life, beautiful children and hope for a better future.

The project was led by Mariana Chilton, PhD, a professor of health policy at Drexel’s School of Public Health. Chilton’s goal was to have the women tell their story directly to policymakers, and to show how the daily hurt of poverty and hunger in their lives impacts their children. The mothers will meet with policy makers including members of the Congressional Hunger Center and the Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee.

“We think that listening to the voices, experiences and wisdom of mothers who are the true experts can truly inspire the public and policy makers to make decisive changes in policies for low income families.” Chilton said.

“These women are the real experts,” Chilton said. “They each have something to teach the world, and are not ashamed of what they have to say. They are fighting each day to provide for their children, and this was a way that we could give them a microphone to the world.”

Chilton also directs The Philadelphia GROW Project, which is a hunger and nutrition program for babies and toddlers. Directed by Drexel’s School of Public Health, the project is a participant in a national research program on child hunger and also includes a clinic at a Philadelphia hospital.

“For ten years, our research has been documenting the health and well-being of children in relation to hunger and poverty alleviation programs. Unfortunately, there have been no significant changes in national and local hunger rates for more than a decade. It was time for a new frame of reference. It was time to change the conversation about poverty and hunger in the United States,” said Chilton.

The photographs included in the “Witnesses to Hunger” project can be found online by going to http://publichealth.drexel.edu and clicking on the “Witnesses to Hunger” link.

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News Media/Onsite Contact:

Noah Cohen, Drexel News Bureau 215-895-2705, 267-228-5599 (cell) or noah.cohen@drexel.edu

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