I am an extrovert. I love talking to people, making new friends and finding out what others love and finding connections with people. So I started with people who love volunteering like I do, and putting hours of their own time and effort into something they have passion for. This also led me to some of the deficits that the organizations faces. Through this realization, I also became interested in what the organization could provide and where it was lacking.
Throughout the combination of these two projects, I had the privilege to see not only the outside of the organization and the positive things, but they let us in to see the cracks and faults behid the great causee that they were all striving for together. The colunteers that opened up to us work so hard only for the joy of helping others buy they still were not ashamed to admit where help was needed. It was a very humbling experience.
I spent this semester photographing the contents of the bags of food distributed by local food bank, F.A.C.E.S. While the “bag units” (as they are known at F.A.C.E.S) are not meant to last clients an entire week, for some it may be all they have. I’ve seen the variety of food that comes in for distribution, the different odds and ends that somehow get sorted every week by volunteers. A single “bag unit” from F.A.C.E.S. is actually made up of several different bags of food; a bag of dry goods, a bag of mears, and a bag of produce. The amount of food distributed to one client is determined by the size of their family. At the beginning of the semester I set out with the goal of finding out the nutritional content of the distributed bags. I was curious to see whether these bags met or fell short of nutritional guidelines. Regardless of the results, good or bad, I wanted to document the contents of the “bag units” and let the viewer determine for themseelves; is the food F.A.C.E.S. provides enough?
As a graphic designer, I have learned to think and express myself visually. I’ve come to understand that graphic design isn’t art; rather, it’s visual communication. It is a way to reach an audience in a more intuitive way. Learning how to best communicate with my audience came into play with my writing, as well.
I have found that I can most effectively express my ideas after doing research on the subject at hand. This really became the basis for my writing that accompanied these photos. I was able to give a clearer picture of the effects that food insecurity has on children using national and local statistics. Similarly, I compiled facts about the United States and Farmville to write about the Kroger closing. For both the Kroger photos and the F.A.C.E.S. photos, I realized that the best way to enhance the message of the photos would be to let the facts speak for themselves.
Taking the challenge of confronting those who receive groceries from the organization F.A.C.E.S.; I asked to take portraits of families and individuals in order to get a sense of the tone and character set in this location. Upon asking, those who agreed to get their photograph when leaving F.A.C.E.S. understood our class publication and exhibit towards developing an awareness of the food and diet of Farmville, VA. In my series The Many F.A.C.E.S. of Farmville, the people who lack the income to provide food for themselves and their families stare directly back into the eyes of my audience. All those in need do not express the same emotion(s) through their facial expressions, showing how many different stories and outlooks are joined together at this one place for the same intention, to collect a cart. One emotion that united my collection was the awareness presented in each person’s face; each understood their situation and the conditions that imply a need for support. More friends gather at F.A.C.E.S. each Saturday, recognizing familiarity and forming a weekly routine, even those who volunteer their free time benefit from the hospitality there. I present to you a group of portraits that provide awareness on the issue regarding hunger in Farmville, VA in hopes that change is made. – Heather Lancaster
One teacher at Prince Edward Elementary said all but three of her students receive free lunches. She commented that some of her food insecure students have continuous off days and are “not progressing” in school.