Food Insecurity Posters

Aina Martinez Zurita, Tricia Shi, and Zachary Collins

    The data says that there is a large section of our society that grapples with food security every day. Many people, due to a societal expectation to be able to provide for themselves and their family, feel too ashamed to reach out for help when they struggle to make ends meet.

    The Greater Boston Area has many shelters, food pantries, and churches that offer free meals, housing, training, and other resources for free. Our target audience are individuals who are struggling with food insecurity, specifically those who use public transportation near these shelters and resource centers. Many people often don’t know what is in their area or even that that it’s typical for someone in their situation to receive assistance. The goal of our posters is to demonstrate that there are locations in their local area – near and around their home and daily commute – that can help and foster a sense that reaching out to these places for help is normal.

    In the Food For Free data files, we noticed a common theme among many of the individuals in the Project Bread Status Report – prior to getting the help that lifted them off their feet, they were unaware of where to go and / or embarrassed by the need to get help. We wanted to advertise some of these shelters but in a way that utilized the personal narrative surrounding the status report interviewees in an effort to shift the viewer’s perception.

    We researched a few of the shelters near and around Boston (Rosie’s Place, Elizabeth Peabody House, and My Brother’s Table) and gathered information about the number of people they are able to serve and what public transportation stops are close by. Using the personal stories from the status report and quotes from individuals who were helped by these resource centers, we made posters that bring to the surface who these places aid. By providing a face, quotes, and information about their income and occupation, we build a very relatable image that can help people realize where they can get help and that people like them often do. At the bottom of our poster, we mention that these places serve many individuals, suggesting that going there is normal. We also provide helpful information about how to get there.

    When putting all of these components together, we have a poster that demonstrates that getting help with food insecurity is a normal act – something that others like them have done and are extremely thankful for. From far away, one can see the image of the person and the quote about the help they received. This puts the focus on someone who they can connect to. When observed up close, they can get more information about what might make the individual’s current situation similar to theirs. This can help remove any stigma about feeling alone and embarrassed. They can then get a more detailed description about the shelter or pantry including a quick blurb about its proximity and how to get there. The medium of a poster makes gathering all of this information very quick and covert, and is able to paint a clear image for how it can help them.

    If we were to take this sketch and expand it, we would interview many more individuals who go to the food shelters near and around Boston, allowing us to build many different profiles for many different people and locations. Pasting a few around an individual shelter or pantry could intercept many who could use help as they commute to work or other places around the city. This way, we would be able to hopefully change the misconceptions they have about food insecurity and the number of people it impacts.