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A popular wellness maxim is “you are what you eat.” Yet across the nation and region, a staggering number of people struggle to find their very next meal despite an overabundance of food—a reality that has only worsened with the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Anacostia Community Museum’s powerful new outdoors exhibition “Food for the People: Eating and Activism in Greater Washington” on view April 17 through Sept. 17, 2022, asks people to confront this reality by meaningfully considering where their food comes from: who produces, processes and prepares it; who has access to it; and what impact it has on the public’s collective health. Presented on the museum plaza at 1901 Fort Place S.E., the exhibition will be joined by an indoor exhibition when the museum reopens its building
“‘Food for the People’ sheds light on the continued issues of food insecurity in our region and recognizes the individuals and organizations working on the ground every day to increase access and affordability,” said Melanie Adams, director of the museum. “The exhibition offers a safe, outdoor experience where visitors can be introduced to food-justice issues in the Washington, D.C., area, as well as local people and ideas that are making our food system more just and sustainable.”
Curator Samir Meghelli led the research for the exhibition project for the past two years. “One striking statistic regarding food access in our area is that D.C.’s wealthiest and whitest ward has a full-service grocery store for every 9,336 residents, whereas our least wealthy and most African American ward has one store for every 85,160 residents,” he said. “A critical component of ‘Food for the People’ is that it offers suggestions for how visitors can contribute to making a more just and sustainable food system in their local communities.”
Breaking down key factors contributing to food insecurity, the exhibition design presents statistics on food waste, food production and the disparity in grocery access across the Washington metro area in a colorful format understandable to all ages. Also featured is a sculptural tribute to the food workers—from the farmworkers and meat processors to the grocery store and restaurant workers—whose labor makes people’s food possible.
- Statistics kiosks offering food justice facts in 3D form
- Tribute station where visitors can write notes of appreciation to food workers
- “People Pylons” structures featuring local advocates for food justice
“Food for the People” is part of the museum’s theme year, “Our Food, Our Future,” a yearlong examination of food history, culture and justice through exhibitions and related programming designed to educate and encourage audiences to take action to create a more equitable future. Information on complementary public programming can be accessed on the museum’s website.
The lead sponsor for “Food for the People” is Events DC, the supporting sponsor is the Hillside Foundation—Allen & Shelley Holt and additional support is provided by AARP DC. This exhibition also received federal support from the Latino Initiative Pool, administered by the Smithsonian Latino Center.
Established in 1967, the Anacostia Community Museum examines the impact of contemporary social issues on urban communities. During the current COVID-19 pandemic, the museum’s programming occurs virtually and outside. Visit http://anacostia.si.edu for information on public programs and exhibitions and follow the museum on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
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