Southfield (CW50) – What are Food Soldiers? It’s unlikely that you’ve heard the term before, as Dr. Debra Reid from The Henry Ford created the nomenclature as the headline for the new pop-up exhibit, Food Soldiers: Nutrition and Race Activism.

Community Connect Host Lisa Germani, with Dr. Debra Reid, Curator of Agriculture and Environment at The Henry Ford

Dr. Debra Reid, Curator of Agriculture and Environment, joins Lisa Germani on Community Connect to talk about the history of Food Soldiers and their impact on the economic welfare of the Black community. They also discuss George Washington Carver and his agricultural connection to Henry Ford.

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The Henry Ford describes a Food Soldier as a person who fights for something many of us take for granted: widespread, consistent access to good nutrition. The exhibit celebrates those who have made it their life’s mission to ensure that everyone has the same access to one of the most basic necessities in life. The pop-up is open throughout the months of February and March to honor the Food Soldiers within the Black community, as well as women in history.

There are several focal points within the exhibit, one being how Food Soldiers tied to race activism. Before and during the Civil War, Food Soldiers began to link health to full citizenship and armed themselves with agricultural science to begin a pursuit for equal rights. This pursuit would lead through the Civil War and beyond, as Black educators began to link gardening to economic development and nutrition. The Food Soldiers would appeal to Black farm owners after the war to put their own family and community’s health first, even though most were sharecroppers for another’s gain.

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Today, Food Soldiers live on, as organizations like Focus: HOPE fight to eliminate poverty and increase well-being in underserved communities through public aid programs.

You can read more about Food Soldiers on Dr. Reid’s blog Healthy Food to Build Healthy Communities.

Check out Food Soldiers: Nutrition and Race Activism, today through March 31st at Henry Ford Museum.

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