GEORGIA, July 30, 2014 — With the summer in full swing, many Georgians turn their attention to vacation. But, for nearly one in five Georgians, the focus is not on summer fun, but on the source of their next meal.
Food pantries devoted to the poor provide more food to the disadvantaged during the summer months than any other time of the year, according to St. Vincent de Paul, which stocks and staffs 38 food pantries across the state.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) notes that just 14 percent of the 871,713 Georgia children receiving free or reduced lunch during the school year receive meals from the USDA’s summer nutrition program. This leaves 750,000 of our most vulnerable school age children with a nutritional deficit during the summer months.
Some 1.8 million Georgians currently live below the federal poverty level (nearly one in five). But despite these large numbers of vulnerable families, children and individuals, too often the plight of the most unfortunate among us is hidden or simply ignored.
That’s why St. Vincent de Paul Georgia has launched Profiles of Poverty, a photography exhibit that chronicles the plight of Georgia’s most vulnerable populations. The exhibit features 50 photos from some of the state’s most talented photojournalists. Their work has appeared in in the New York Times, Atlanta Journal Constitution, USA Today, Rolling Stone, Atlanta Magazine, Creative Loafing and many more.
The photos will be on display at Colony Square, August 5-31. The exhibit depicts the issues affecting the poor, including homelessness, hunger, homebound seniors and unemployment.
Despite the seriousness of the subject matter, the exhibit captures the indomitable spirit of many in tough situations, as well as moments of hope in the midst of despair.
Award-winning photographer David Tulis shot Chanda Baptist and her 3-year-old daughter Journi, who until recently were homeless and living out of a ‘95 Volvo. She and her daughter now reside in a small apartment in College Park.
The exhibit also features a photo of Sandra Hughes, a single mother from Jasper. In the four years since she sought assistance from St. Vincent de Paul, she completed her degree from Chattahoochee Technical College and is completely self-sufficient, working at the college’s Appalachian campus.
In her free time, Sandra volunteers with a local prisoner outreach program and is working on her master’s in human services to “help pay it forward.” Her photo, taken by acclaimed photographer Tim Redman, demonstrates that with assistance many can escape the clutches of poverty and despair.
I am proud to have been part of this effort by St. Vincent de Paul to create greater awareness for the plight of the poor. I urge people to visit the Profiles of Poverty exhibit at Colony Square. I think you’ll come away with a greater sense of the problems facing our fellow Georgians, as well as hope that by working together we can improve the lives of those whose situations are seemingly hopeless.
*John Glenn is a photographer who curated “Profiles of Poverty,” on display at Colony Square through Aug. 31.