Sometimes, issues are best understood when they are illustrated on human scale. So believes a group of four students—Peter Fritsche '10, Maina Handmaker '11, Matt Pincus '10 and Madeline Sullivan '10- who have joined to create "A Ton of Food," an interactive sculpture project advocating for hunger issues.
Pincus explained that he and Sullivan began work on this project early this semester during their sculpture II class with Lecturer Nestor Gil. Handmaker and Fritsche joined forces with them because of the interest they shared in these community and environmental issues.
The group of students was inspired to organize the food drive by the Joseph McKeen Center for the Common Good's "Innovation for Change" series.
In order to transport the food from Bowdoin to the Midcoast Hunger Prevention Program (MCHPP), the organizers decided to be as creative as possible. Thus, they began planning a human chain comprised of members of the Bowdoin and Brunswick community that would span the distance from campus to the MCHPP building.
"We wanted to innovatively deliver the food and came up with the idea of organizing a human chain to pass the cans of food from the student union to MCHPP," said Handmaker. "The human chain allows us to think of how our food travels, where it comes from and where it goes."
The chain will run from Smith Union to the MCHPP, which is located behind Hannaford on Union Street. Participants will pass 1,200 cans of food, a significant number in the fight against hunger.
"The 1,200 cans represent the 1,200 calories a human needs each day to keep from going hungry," said Fritsche.
The students behind "A Ton of Food" said they hope their living sculpture will focus attention on an issue that affects every community.
"We hope that this event gets people thinking and talking about their relationships between the food we eat, the community we live in, and the environment we share," said Sullivan. "The human food chain is a visual and physical way to represent the ripple effect our choices have."
The cans of food will be obtained through donations, and the group said it hopes that Bowdoin community can join in this concerted effort to donate canned goods.
One accessible way for Bowdoin students to donate is to purchase cans of the MCHPP's four most requested foods at the C-store in Smith Union.
"Students can use their I.D. card accounts to pay for the cans they want to donate," said Fritsche.
"The C-store will then keep track of the quantity and type of goods purchased, and those will be ordered in large palettes at wholesale prices via Dining Services."
Students can also donate by bringing money to the student information desk in Smith Union. "The money raised will be put into a fund for Midcoast Hunger Prevention Program to purchase local produce as a supplement to the canned food," said Pincus.
Finally, donations can also be purchased or dropped off at Hannaford.
Those who want to take part in the human chain on Tuesday, May 4th from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. can now sign up in Smith Union Info Desk.
Participants will join students from a variety of involved groups including the Bowdoin students, faculty, staff, MCHPP volunteers and clients, Brunswick community members, the fifth grade classes at Coffin, Longfellow and Jordan Acres Elementary School and Brunswick High School, according to Sullivan.
The human food chain will be the final event in a series of installations that are part of the "A Ton of Food" project. From April 19th to the 22nd, there will be a Food Waste Display featured at Thorne Hall that will use "bags of organic soil to represent the amount of food wasted at Thorne per day," said Handmaker.
Additionally, on April 22 students can also bring cans of food or money to the Locavore Dinner at Thorne.
The project will culminate on May 14 with a display of videos and pictures of the different events at an end of the semester exhibit showing the work of students in visual arts courses.
The organizers of "A Ton of Food" chose to take on this project to showcase an issue that is part of every person's daily life and to call attention to the intricacies of the food chain that are often ignored.
"By looking more closely at where we get our food and how we eat it, we can start to think of more socially and environmentally conscious ways to interact with our world," said Pincus. "The human food chain is a physical manifestation of that link between each of us and our environment."