Hamil R. HarrisLifestyle

Anacostia Museum Sheds New Light on D.C. Region’s Food-Insecurity Problem

'Food for the People' Outdoor Exhibition Focuses on Disparity Plaguing People of Color

The Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum (ACM) recently unveiled an outdoor exhibition that focuses on the long-standing disparity among people throughout the region who don’t have access to food, vegetables and fresh produce.

The new exhibition, “Food for the People: Eating and Activism in Greater Washington,” will remain on display through Sept. 17 on the museum’s plaza located at 1901 Fort Place in Southeast.

“‘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 Anacostia Community Museum.

Sage Morgan-Hubbard, a museum consultant, shared comments during the virtual celebration which took place on Saturday, April 17. Other program participants included food researcher Dominique Hazzard, Grammy-nominated artist Christylez Bacon and ACM’s chief curator, Dr. Samir Meghelli, who has directed 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,” Meghelli 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.”

Bacon paid tribute to the ingenuity of D.C.’s Black community with a rhythmic selection accompanied by African drums in which he sang about “Mumbo sauce” – a sweet and tangy sauce which adds flavor to chicken wings, french fries or fried shrimp – developed and popularized in the District’s take-out restaurants.

“Food for the People” represents one of several contributions to the museum’s theme for the year, “Our Food, Our Future” – an 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.

“We are the only Smithsonian in D.C. that has had any opening during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Marcia Burris, spokesperson for the museum. “We held an opening event that was accessible online but the exhibition is physically outside and people can visit it whenever they chose.”

Sponsors for the exhibition include Events DC, the Hillside Foundation, Allen & Shelley Holt and AARP DC with federal support provided by the Latino Initiative Pool administered by the Smithsonian Latino Center.

Established in 1967, the Smithsonian 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. For more information, visit www.anacostia.si.edu.

 

Hamil R. Harris

Hamil Harris is an award-winning journalist who worked at the Washington Post from 1992 to 2016. During his tenure he wrote hundreds of stories about the people, government and faith communities in the Greater Washington Area. Hamil has chronicled the Million Man March, the Clinton White House, the September 11 attack, the sniper attacks, Hurricane Katrina, the campaign of President Barack Obama and many other people and events. Hamil is currently a multi-platform reporter on the Local Desk of the Washington Post where he writes a range of stories, shoots photos and produces videos for the print and online editions of the Post. In addition, he is often called upon to report on crime, natural disasters and other breaking issues. In 2006 Harris was part of a team of reporters that published the series “Being a Black Man.” He was also the reporter on the video project that accompanied the series that won two Emmy Awards, the Casey Medal and the Peabody Award. Hamil has lectured at Georgetown University, George Washington University, Howard University, the American University, the University of Maryland and the University of the District of Columbia. He also lectures several times a year to interns during their semester in the District as part of their matriculation at the Consortium of Christian Colleges and Universities.

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