Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIII, No. 30
 
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
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Hunger In Central Jersey Highlighted In Historical Society’s Newest Exhibit

Dilshanie Perera

Complete with eye-opening statistics, multimedia artwork, and interactive elements, the latest exhibition at the Historical Society of Princeton (HSP) is focused on the issue of hunger.

“Hunger Pains: Feeding People in Central New Jersey” opened last Thursday with HSP Director Erin Dougherty calling it a way for the organization to “present about human needs in this community.”

A collaboration between the Historical Society, the Mercer Street Friends Food Bank, the Crisis Ministry, and the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen (TASK), the exhibit is a timely one. In 2008, food banks in New Jersey experienced a 25 percent increase in clients along with a 20 percent decline in food supplies and donations.

“It’s important for institutions like us to be relevant,” acknowledged HSP Curator of Collections Eileen Morales, who said that the idea for “Hunger Pains” was borne out of a brainstorming session last fall.

The exhibition runs through the galleries on the ground floor of the Historical Society, opening with a series of shelves stocked with food to reflect those at each of the three partnering organizations. Information about TASK, the Crisis Ministry, and the Mercer Street Friends Food Bank, as well as hunger in Central New Jersey is on display in text, photographs, art, and video.

The next section showcases the sculpture, paintings, drawings, and photographs by members of the A-Team, an artists’ collective in Trenton that is supported by TASK.

Interactive elements geared toward people of all ages are present throughout the exhibit, with the last one asking, “What is your solution to the problem of hunger?”

Ways of getting involved in combatting hunger locally are suggested, and include directly working with the featured organizations or volunteering at a garden. Agricultural initiatives featured in the show are the Community Gardens program at Isles, Inc., the farming efforts of America’s Grow-A-Row, and the Princeton School Garden Cooperative.

Chair of Pediatrics at the Monmouth Medical Center Meg Fisher discussed research on nutrition and childhood obesity at the exhibition opening, saying that paying attention to what we consume is important.

“There is the equivalent of 14 teaspoons of sugar in a 12 ounce can of soda. You would never let your child put 14 teaspoons on their cereal,” Ms. Fisher said, saying that doctors now see what were “adult diseases” like Type II diabetes occurring in young children.

The Historical Society is running a food drive until August 16 to benefit the three partnering organizations. Items that will be accepted include: canned proteins (tuna, salmon, chicken, chili), shelf-stable milk (like Parmalat), peanut butter in non-glass containers, canned potatoes, and cans of low-fructose fruit.

The exhibition will run until August 16 at Bainbridge House at 158 Nassau Street. Visit www.princetonhistory.org for more details.

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