Americans on Food Aid Document Their Hunger in Photos

“Before I was on SNAP, I budgeted $50 a week for all groceries for my two children and myself. This was for food, shampoo, toilet paper, everything.”

Photo by Sallie Campbell.

What does hunger look like in America? According to Feeding America, a nationwide network of food banks, 49 million Americans, including 16 million children, suffer food insecurity each year.

So, more and more, hunger looks like you and me. In Colorado, a diverse group of women who receive food assistance benefits chronicled their experience through photography. Their photographs and stories shed light on the reality of hunger with the hope of creating change in how we view and understand the issue. “Hunger Through My Lens,” an exhibit of their work, will be on display this year at locations around Denver.

Caroline Pooler: Ancestral meals

Photo by Caroline Pooler.

I’ve learned so much about life from working my farm space side by side with a Cambodian refugee family. I have a greater appreciation for the diversity other cultures bring to the community table. I learned to respect and admire the way this family shares meals and ceremony.

Pooler, 52, artist, has a collective, “OUI Contemporary Arts,” in The Rhino District in Denver. After losing her job in 2011, she took an interest in urban farming to help fill the nutritional void.

Sallie Campbell: AIDS? Food is medicine too

Photo by Sallie Campbell.

The photograph on the left depicts me prior to my diagnosis. You can see I was sick, and I didn’t have enough food to eat. The picture of me on the right shows me seven years later, much healthier. Food is an important part of my health. Not only does it give me proper nutrition, it allows me to take my medications and absorb them. I look better, feel better, and am better.

Campbell, 51, Denver native and working mother of four, is dedicated to helping others and establishing food as a basic human right.

Andrea Fuller: The stress of $50 a week—$2.40 per day—for one mom, two kids

Photo by Andrea Fuller.

Before I was on SNAP, I budgeted $50 a week for all groceries for my two children and myself. This was for food, shampoo, toilet paper, everything. It was very stressful to plan my list, and even more stressful going to the grocery store every time. I would add things up on my calculator as I put them in the cart. As soon as I hit $50, I had to decide what I was going to get and what I wasn’t. One day, I noticed that my nephew, who was visiting me, left a note on my grocery list. That small act of telling me, “I love you,” helped me through that trip to the grocery store. It is acts of kindness that have helped me through life’s challenges and given me the motivation to be the best mom that I can to my children.

Fuller, a mom in her 40s, has a B.A. and M.A. in international relations and a certificate in conflict resolution. She works on issues of justice, human rights, and advocacy for women.

Robin Dickinson: Better than Candy

Photo by Robin Dickinson.

My husband was fixing supper when my spirited toddler grabbed a carrot and ran away with it, laughing. She was still at the steamed food stage but pretended to eat it anyway. Healthy food is so much more than just calories for our bodies. It also is how we raise our children and pass on our values; it’s nutrition to help them grow and learn; it’s time together as a family cooking.

Dickinson, 32, is married and mom to a 5-year-old boy and 2-year-old girl. She is a practicing physician and also a stroke survivor. She is grateful for food stamps and Medicaid being there for her family.