School cafeteria manager Diane Blick poses for a photograph featured in the “Food For Thought” art exhibit. Photo by J.M. Giordano.

An exhibition opening next month at the Baltimore Museum of Industry will encourage visitors to ponder the impact of food insecurity and hear the stories of Baltimore school food and nutrition workers.

The “Food For Thought” exhibition will open Feb. 10 at the BMI and will remain open through the year.

There is also a smaller version of the exhibition in the lobby of City Schools headquarters at 200 E. North Avenue. That version opened in September 2022 and will remain on view until June 2023.

“As awareness grows surrounding the inequity of access to fresh healthy foods, we’re excited to be able to shine a spotlight on the important work taking place in City Schools to care for Baltimore’s students,” said Beth Maloney, director of interpretation at the BMI and part of the curatorial team for “Food For Thought,” in a statement.

Photograph portraits by J.M. Giordano and interviews by WYPR radio producer Aaron Henkin showcase Baltimore City Public Schools’ Food and Nutrition Service workers, who have been “local unsung heroes of the pandemic,” museum officials said in a news release.

When school buildings were closed in the early months of the pandemic, Baltimore City opened 28 emergency meal distribution sites with meals and fresh produce prepared and packaged by food and nutrition services staff. At-home meal delivery was also available to students who are medically fragile or had high needs.

City Schools’ food and nutrition workers prepared and distributed more than 88,000 meals daily for a total of more than 11 million meals served during the 2021-22 school year.

“Food service workers tirelessly prepare and distribute meals to their communities,” Maloney said. “In some instances during the pandemic, these were the only meals families received, as many households depend on schools to provide regular weekday meals to their children.”

In Baltimore City, 23.5% of residents and 28.3% of children live in areas with limited access to fresh food, called “Healthy Food Priority Areas,” which were previously known as “food deserts.”

Black residents are almost four times as likely to live in Healthy Food Priority Areas than their white counterparts, with 31% of Black residents and 8.9% of white residents living in such areas.

“Food For Thought” will also include hands-on activities to give visitors another way of engaging with the exhibition.

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Marcus Dieterle

Marcus Dieterle is the managing editor of Baltimore Fishbowl. He returned to Baltimore in 2020 after working as the deputy editor of the Cecil Whig newspaper in Elkton, Md. He can be reached at marcus@baltimorefishbowl.com...

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