Updated Thu, Feb 27, 2014 4:30 pm
Toledo-based ProMedica, in collaboration with the Ohio Arts Council's Riffe Gallery, is presenting a free photo exhibition featuring photos taken by individuals facing hunger and food insecurity.
These powerful images depict the joys and challenges experienced by one in five Ohio families who struggle to feed themselves nutritious meals.
The exhibition is part of ProMedica's Come to the Table hunger-free community initiative to address hunger as a health issue both locally, regionally and nationally.
The Witness to Hunger exhibition will be on display March 4-24. Among the photographs in the exhibition is "Watching Over Khalil" by Oni Parrish, a working mother who captured her only child eating breakfast with her shadow in the background.
Parrish, who has needed food assistance periodically since five-year-old Khalil was born, said her son plans his day around meals.
"Before his eyes open, he'll ask: 'Can I have breakfast?'" Parrish said. "Food is his world."
Like many Witness to Hunger photographers, Parrish worries the only food she can afford for her son at times is not nutritious. Poor nutrition and its link to obesity and other health problems is another social aspect of food insecurity and hunger that ProMedica is addressing.
"We wanted to illuminate hunger-related problems that are often overlooked in the United States," said Stephanie Cihon, ProMedica's corporate director of community relations, advocacy and grants. "These compelling photos give us a glimpse into the daily lives of people experiencing hunger and food insecurity."
Parrish said she chose another one of her photos, of her and Khalil enjoying a book together called "Bedtime Story," because she hopes the exhibit will dispel stereotypes that people needing assistance are lazy or have no values. Many other photos show smiles or grimaces as subjects respond to conditions around them.
ProMedica established Come to the Table in 2011 to elevate awareness and engage communities in addressing hunger as a health issue. This year ProMedica is working to expand partnerships throughout the nation.
On Feb. 27, ProMedica and the Alliance to End Hunger will held a national summit in Washington, D.C. The event was aimed at fostering a national dialogue with healthcare providers, health and human service professionals and legislators to address hunger and support public policy and assistance programs, as well as share existing models that they have implemented throughout their service area to encourage partnerships in other communities.
Starting in May, ProMedica will work with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to hold a series of regional hunger summits. The first regional summit will be held in May in Chicago.
For more information about Come to the Table visit www.promedica.org/come-to-the-table.