When It Comes To Hunger, ‘Our Community Isn’t Immune’

Minnesota’s “foodie culture” is well known, with great local restaurants, artisan food purveyors, farmer’s markets, and more. But what gets lost among all that great food is that Minnesota has a hunger problem. The state has a 1 in 10 Minnesota households struggle with hunger, and at the national level, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s annual report on food security found that nearly 13 percent of American households had difficulty at some point last year in providing enough food for their families.

To raise awareness about the prevalence of hunger locally and nationally, Adath Jeshurun Congregation, Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Minneapolis (JFCS), and Jewish Family Service of St. Paul (JFS) partnered with MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger to bring “This Is Hunger” to a local audience.

“This Is Hunger,” a national touring exhibit that will be in the Twin Cities June 27-30 is a first-of-its-kind free exhibit that brings participants face to face with the stark realities of hunger through state-of-the-art storytelling techniques and interactive elements. It will be located at Adath (10500 Hillside Lane W, Minnetonka). The event wasn’t initially scheduled to be making a stop in Minneapolis, but it was added. The tour has also recently been extended six months due to high-demand.

“We often think of hunger in stereotypes, such as the homeless person walking down the street, but the reality of hunger in Minnesota and in the United States is much more complex,” said Rabbi Harold Kravitz of Adath Jeshurun Congregation. “This exhibit gives us an opportunity to engage the whole community with an incredible experience that will change the way you look at hunger. We want to help everyone understand that those who are hungry can be your neighbor who just lost her job or the teenager at school who can’t concentrate properly because he isn’t eating enough nutritious food at home.”

Jaye Snyder, a JFCS volunteer who helped bring the program here, said that PRISM in Golden Valley serves 700 families per month – and it’s not always the same 700 families.

MAZON’s This Is Hunger is touring the nation in a 53’ trailer that expands on both sides to provide nearly 1,000 square feet of interior space. Photo courtesy MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger.

MAZON’s This Is Hunger is touring the nation in a 53’ trailer that expands on both sides to provide nearly 1,000 square feet of interior space. Photo courtesy MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger.

“There are people who face the need persistently,” said Snyder, who formerly worked at JFCS as the program director for food security. “As I did that work, I heard stories that there were people in the Jewish community who struggled. It’s something that impacts all kind of people: It could be a person who gets into a situation they never expected. It can happen to a Jewish person as much as a non-Jewish one. Our community isn’t immune to it.”

“This Is Hunger” is housed in a 53-foot-long double-expandable semitrailer that provides nearly 1,000 square feet of exhibit space. The exhibit is on a 10-month national tour that is stopping in more than 30 cities across the country. “This Is Hunger” is a community engagement program commissioned by MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, and is touring the U.S. through early 2018.

Snyder said friends and relatives have seen the exhibit on previous stops and said that it was a really good story-telling experience.

“It resonates,” she said. “It was really high impact.”

This Is Hunger’s multimedia experience virtually introduces participants to real people who struggle to put enough food on the table each day. Photo courtesy MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger.

The exhibit features black and white portraits by an internationally renowned photojournalist along with the stories of dozens of Americans who have had difficulty putting enough nutritious food on the table each day. Through digital and hands-on activities, “This Is Hunger” takes participants on a compelling journey that draws them into the real-life circumstances of these individuals and deepens their awareness about who in America struggles with hunger and why. Visitors are then encouraged to educate others and advocate for change.

Limited reservations are still available. Check out the event’s website for available times.