Photos from the last of our Hunger Through My Lens “sister sites” are now online at HungerThroughMyLens.org, giving you and others the opportunity to experience everyday life from the perspective of residents who live on the Eastern Plains of Colorado. Four project participants — all residents of Prowers County — have shared their photographs and personal stories about how hunger has impacted their lives and their community, as well as how they are working to solve the issue now.
Hunger Through My Lens, an advocacy project facilitated by Hunger Free Colorado, in partnership with Prowers County resident volunteers, Emily Nieschberg and Susan Portner, aims to shed light on the reality of hunger in rural Colorado. It’s based on the photovoice model, a form of participatory action research that has been widely used in academic and other fields. Digital cameras are the main medium for participants to express themselves and put real stories to the overwhelming statistics surrounding hunger and food insecurity. The participants maintain rights to all of their photographs.
Portner says she looks forward to displaying the group’s photographs in and around Lamar later this year, and to start a conversation about the issue of hunger locally.
The Colorado-based project launched in Denver during the summer of 2013 and has since expanded across the state, including the San Luis Valley, the Roaring Fork Valley and now the Arkansas River Valley. The participants — all of varying ages, locations and backgrounds — let you into their lives. They share their experiences with facing life-altering health issues, making difficult choices between paying rent and buying food, raising children on their own and dealing with limited public transportation, among other barriers that prevent proper access to the fuel needed to thrive.
Prowers County participant James experienced the challenges of supporting his young children after going through a divorce. “To support my children, we lived in a subsidized housing program and received food stamps,” said James. “It was an experience I’ll never forget.”
Years later, while working for a local school district, James witnessed first-hand the pain and hunger many children suffered without access to food. “When presented with the opportunity to participate in the Hunger Through My Lens project, I excitedly jumped on board with my wife, Sondee, who has submitted photos as well.”
Both participants state that the project is a powerful way to further their passion for advocating on behalf of those who are hungry in our state.
The group of Prowers County participants includes three women and one man, all of varying ages, locations and backgrounds. They live and work in Lamar, the county seat, located in the fertile Arkansas River Valley, an ideal environment for farming and livestock production. Their photographs and stories shared through Hunger Through My Lens showcase their experiences coping with their own childhood hunger, unexpected life changes, and raising children on their own—and how hunger has impacted their lives.
In addition to being featured online, their photos and stories also will be displayed as part of the Hunger Through My Lens traveling exhibit, which will next be at the Hungry for Change Summit on Sept. 27, as well as at a forthcoming local exhibit in Lamar.