5-Year Anniversary Sheds Light on Hunger

Jahzairh Sutton knows what it feels like to go to bed hungry.

"I grew up on Oodles of Noodles and hot dogs," said 12-year-old Jahzairh. 

As Congress considers more cuts to food subsidy programs, one local organization is trying to bring more attention to the issue.

Beginning in 2008 Witnesses to Hunger, a program at the Drexel University School of Public Health, provided low-income caregivers--mostly mothers-- with digital cameras so they could document living in poverty.

The photos, a mix of shots showing empty refrigerators, children's faces and violence on the streets, were on display at the group's 5-year anniversary event Wednesday.  The exhibit will also be available for the public to view at Drexel's Bossone Research Enterprise Center lobby through Dec. 12. 

"What Witnesses to Hunger is doing," said Dr. Mariana Chilton, associate professor at the Drexel University School of Public Health, "is trying to magnify that voice.  To make sure our legislators can really hear their experiences."

One out of five families in Philadelphia struggle to put food on the table. 

A 5 percent cut to food stamps went into effect on Nov. 1.  Since then, the average Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, or SNAP, recipient receives $1.40 in supplemental funds per meal, according to Dr. Victoria Mayer of the University of Pennsylvania.

The organization is lobbying officials in Washington D.C. to rethink additional cuts.

Witnesses to Hunger, which began in Philadelphia, opened additional sites in Camden, Baltimore and Boston and has plans to expand to other cities so he can help more kids like Jahzairh. 

"The refrigerator is full," he said.

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