By Joy Holmes Multimedia Journalist

A collaboration among the Quinlan Arts Center, Georgia Mountain Food Bank and The John Jarrard foundation kicked-off hunger action month with the opening of the “Still Hungry in America” exhibit Thursday.

The Georgia Mountain Food Bank announced this year’s theme as “Feed Hope.” The non-profit is focused on the different faces of hunger in today’s society. Those people who are struggling may surprise you, Kay Blackstock, the executive director with Georgia Mountain Food Bank, said.

“If you’re having financial problems, you can’t find a job or there is just some crazy situation going on in your home, you just need hope,” Blackstock said.

The annual movement has a series of events between August and the beginning of October, some of which have reoccurred for several years, like the Empty Bowl Luncheon, a signature fundraiser for the cause. This year, the luncheon will take place at the new Lanier Technical College campus and will accommodate nearly 1,000 people.

A new element of the cause is the “Still Hungry in America” exhibit which showcases a collection of award-winning photography by the late Al Clayton. Clayton travelled the deep south in the 1960s and captured people living in poverty to shed light on those who struggled to find their next meal while faced with other life challenges.

“He was always trying to show some social injustice that he felt was going on and he showed it through his pictures to maybe raise awareness for something that he was passionate about,” Jennie Clayton, Al Clayton’s daughter, said.

Clayton’s work was compiled in a book published in 1969, but the book has been re-published with a new foreword written by Dr. Thomas Ward, Jr., a historian who analyzes food insecurity in today’s society and the American diet.

“I was very honored to do it, [the book] fits very much into what I do and what I talk about, especially with the connection between what was going on 50 years ago and what’s going on today,” Ward said.

Ward was the guest speaker at the kick-off on Thursday at the Quinlan Arts Center, where Clayton’s work can be viewed until Oct. 5.

Updated photos taken by Jennie Clayton were added to Clayton’s exhibit, which highlight faces of hunger in Union, Lumpkin, Dawson, Hall and Forsyth counties.

See the list below for the events scheduled for this year’s hunger action month.

August 16: “Still Hungry in America” exhibit opens

August 20: Starts at 4 p.m.- Neighborhood Free Food Distribution at Good News Clinic (while supplies last)

September 3: Community food drive begins through Sept. 12. Visit Georgia Mountain Food Bank online or call for more information 770-534-4111

September 7: 10 a.m. –  2 p.m. – Empty Bowl painting at Quinlan Arts Center. $10 donation. All bowls donateds to the Empty Bowl Lunch. Visit Quinlan Arts Center online or call Georgia Mountain Food Bank 770-534-4111

September 13: 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. – Food Truck Friday at Lake Lanier Olympic Park. Visit the park online for details.

September 24: 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. – Empty Bowl Luncheon at Lanier Technical College. Visit Georgia Mountain Food Bank online or call 770-534-4111

September 28: John Jarrard Foundation Sonwriter’s Concert on the lawn at Brenau University. Visit the foundation online for details, tickets and sponsorships.

October 5: “Still Hungry in America” exhibit closes