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Witnesses to Hunger in Baltimore

Oct 16, 2012

A “Witnesses to Hunger” exhibit, featuring the photographs of parents from Baltimore, Boston, and Philadelphia who have experienced hunger and poverty first-hand, will run through October. The exhibit is one of a number of ways anti-hunger advocates throughout Maryland are coming together -- along with a state-wide conference, and a Food Stamp Challenge -- to raise awareness about the challenges of living in or near poverty and to fight hunger in the state. 

 “Witnesses to Hunger” is a powerful research and advocacy project developed at the Drexel University School of Public Health

“These Witnesses are the real experts on hunger and poverty,” said Dr. Mariana Chilton, an associate professor in the School of Public Health and director of the Center for Hunger-Free Communities, and founder of Witnesses to Hunger. “They each have something powerful to say, and this exhibit is one way that they can have a microphone to the world – now it's up to everyone else to listen and learn.”  

The exhibit puts in perspective the challenges many people face in meeting the basic needs of their family.  “I’ve got to pay my rent.  I’ve got to pay gas and electric. I’ve got to take care of the kids. I’ve got to make sure there’s food in the house, you know, make sure they got clothes, make sure they got shoes, and make sure I got bus fare to even get to work,” said Shaunte Bomar, a Baltimore Witness to Hunger.  “Trying to struggle and juggle all of that on one income that’s coming in the house is extremely hard.”

“Hunger is personal and it is real. Stories and images like these in the Exhibit help shape the food access policies in Baltimore City, said Holly Freishtat, Baltimore City Food Policy Director. “Here in Baltimore City we are using food access strategies as a catalyst to address health, economic and housing disparities understanding that food alone will not alleviate poverty.”

Dr. Maureen Black, John A. Scholl, MD and Mary Louise Scholl, MD professor of pediatrics and director of the Division of Growth and Nutrition at the University of Maryland School of Medicine supports the exhibit.  “Hunger is an issue that is critical to a child’s development, and here in Baltimore, it is affecting far too many of our children,” Black said. “We provide services to the city’s hungry children every day — they are our neighbors and part of the fabric of Baltimore. This photography exhibit is a wonderful, moving way to raise awareness about this problem that affects so many in our community.”

A reception honoring the Witnesses and featuring Senator Catherine Pugh, Chilton, Black, Freishtat, Cathy Demeroto and Baltimore Witnesses will follow the October 16 Fighting Hunger in Maryland Conference presented by the Maryland Food Access and Nutrition Network and sponsored by Kaiser Permanente, AARP Maryland and the United Way of Central Maryland.  With Dr. Michael Reisch, Daniel Thursz Distinguished Professor of Social Justice at the University of Maryland School of Social Work giving the keynote address, the conference will offer attendees knowledge and tools to help meet the nutritional needs of low-income Marylanders through policy, programs, and community engagement. 

The Fighting Hunger in Maryland Conference comes on the heels of Maryland Hunger Solutions’ Food Stamp Challenge, which had more than 200 Maryland area residents participating, including Maryland Department of Human Resources Secretary Ted Dallas, United Way of Central Maryland CEO and President Mark Furst, Maryland Budget and Tax Policy Institute Director Neil Bergsman, and State Delegates Mary Washington and Shane Robinson.  In the Challenge, participants used the average food stamp benefit - $30 a week in Maryland – as their total budget for groceries for seven days.

“Between all of these events, our network of anti-hunger advocates in our state has never been stronger,” said Cathy Demeroto, Director of Maryland Hunger Solutions.  “The Witnesses exhibit and the Food Stamp Challenge are raising awareness of hunger and poverty, and the conference is offering tools and solutions to move us closer to a hunger-free Maryland. This is a time for action.”

Additional Information

  • For more information about Witnesses to Hunger, click here.
  • For more information on the Fighting Hunger in Maryland Conference, click here.
  • For more information on the Food Stamp Challenge, click here. 

Note to news media:

  • For more information on the Fighting Hunger in Maryland Conference, or to interview Cathy Demeroto contact Kirsten Bokenkamp at; 202-986-2200 x3974
  • For more information on visiting the exhibit or to interview Dr. Maureen Black contact Karen Robinson at; 410-706-7590
  • For more information on Witnesses to Hunger, or to interview a Witness or Dr. Mariana Chilton contact Rachel Ewing (info below).