News & Announcements
Press Release: Health and Nutrition Mural InstallationUnveiling of Health and Nutrition Mural
Manna Food Center, an organization that strives to eliminate hunger in Montgomery County through food distribution, education, and advocacy, and Project Youth ArtReach, a program of Class Acts Arts that brings art programs to youth and women in correctional settings in Maryland, partnered to create a new mural, “Food for Life.” The mural was designed and painted by female inmates within Montgomery County Correctional Facility (MCCF).
The mural was created by 16 incarcerated women under the guidance of professional artist Joel Berger, during an arts residency of Project Youth ArtReach (PYA). The 12’ X 4’ acrylic painting will be installed at Manna Food Center. As the designated food bank for Montgomery County, Manna serves over 172,000 food insecure residents annually through its Food for Families, Smart Sacks, Agency Food Distribution, Farm to Food Bank, and Client Nutrition Education programs.
As part of the partnership, Manna came to MCCF to speak to the women’s unit about the scope of Manna’s work in Montgomery County. Manna’s nutritionist Jenna Umbriac spoke about the connections between health, nutrition, and food. The women actively engaged in dialogue with Manna and thanked them for coming to share nutritional and food prep information. Ideas from the session were hashed out in later workshops and incorporated into the design: most critically, the need for a variety of produce, whole grains, fresh clean water, and the importance of balanced meals for the whole family. One woman was especially pleased and proud to see her idea of a waterfall become the center piece of the design.
“It was important that the women creating and donating this mural understand where it would be installed, and that resources like Manna exist in their community,” says PYA Director Claire Schwadron. “Additionally, there is a general lack of education regarding health and nutrition issues, especially in low-income minority communities, where many of the incarcerated women live. Raising awareness of vital issues in the community, and then making responsive art, is an empowering part of our program.”
“We are very impressed with the quality of artwork created by participants in Project Youth ArtReach,” says Manna Nutritionist Jenna Umbriac. “The ‘Food for Life’ mural adds a lively, colorful energy to our client education classroom. The image artfully depicts the lessons taught in our nutrition classes: the importance of a diet of farm-fresh whole foods rich in fruits and vegetables. It also displays the ideal we work toward at Manna - a community in which all members can benefit from the abundance of a just and healthful food system.
Fresh produce is a vital component of the food Manna distributes out to its client families. Manna’ partners with the local farms, orchards, and farmers markets, collecting over 107,000 pounds of fresh local produce that is distributed to clients during the growing season. This provides great nutritional benefit to Manna’s clients. Both the Farm to Food Bank and Client Nutrition Education programs were created out of the clients need and desire for fresh produce. Manna helps children, seniors, people who are ill, those with disabilities, and the working poor, gain access to much needed food, including nutritionally rich fruits and vegetables.
Project Youth ArtReach hopes the mural will lead to partnerships with other non-profit organizations in Montgomery County and enliven the lives of area residents. In 2010, PYA partnered with Casa de Maryland to create a mural celebrating Casa’s work in the community. PYA has also partnered with the Audubon Naturalist Society, developer Home Properties, and other government, for-profit, and non-profit organizations on mural arts projects.
“This is a win-win for both organizations,” Montgomery County Council Member Valerie Ervin announces. “And shows how non-profit organizations can work together to benefit residents of Montgomery County.” [permission to quote CM Ervin is pending.]
Manna Food Center is the designated food bank for Montgomery County. For the past 30 years Manna has provided emergency food assistance to food insecure residents in Montgomery County. Manna serves over 172,000 individuals per year, a number that has over doubled since 2008. Manna distributes 3.7 million pounds of food through its three main programs: Food for Families, Smart Sacks, and Agency Food Distribution. Additionally, Manna’s Farm to Food Bank and Client Nutrition programs give clients access to fresh produce and the knowledge needed to make healthy decisions for themselves and their families. Visit www.mannafood.org for more information.
Project Youth ArtReach provides positive youth development programming at the Montgomery County jail in Clarksburg, the Alfred D. Noyes Children’s Center in Rockville, the Thomas J.S. Waxter Center for Girls in Laurel, and the Cheltenham Youth Facility in Prince George’s County. These programs are taught by master artists and integrate themes of respect, tolerance and conflict resolution while teaching art and life skills. Culturally-diverse arts workshops are offered in the visual, literary and performing arts. Visit http://classactsarts.org/project-youth-artreach for more info.
Montgomery County Correctional Facility (MCCF), located in Boyds Maryland (near Clarksburg), is responsible for the custody and care of male and female offenders who are either in a pre-trial status or serving sentences of up to 18 months. The facility's current capacity is 1,028 inmates. The mission of MCCF is to protect and serve the citizens of Montgomery County and the general public by providing progressive and comprehensive correctional services to all inmates. Visit http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/doctmpl.asp?url=/content/docr/MCCF/MCCFMain.asp for more info.
Class Acts Arts is a non-profit 501(c)3 arts education organization that brings arts into the community through school assemblies and workshops in the performing and visual arts to children in-school, after-school, and out-of-school. We also ensure everyone has access to the arts through programs that reach low-income children, court-involved youth through Project Youth Art Reach, seniors, special needs children and adults, and wounded warriors. Visit www.classactsarts.org for more info. Class Acts Arts is supported in part by the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County, the Maryland State Arts Council, and the National Endowment for the Arts.