Food Justice Club plans mural to encourage food donations

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Photo provided by Emma Kelley.

The draft of the mural, above, is projected to go up onto the back of the Tappan St. Gym this spring.

Lauren Mahoney, Staff Writer

Passengers rarely notice the back wall of the Tappan Gym as the green line hurries past the high school. However, the Food Justice Club has approval for a mural to adorn the blank wall.

Seniors Caroline Cutlip and Emma Kelley, members of the Food Justice Club, are leading the design process for a mural that is planned to go up this fall. According to Cutlip and Kelley, the mural portrays the iconic Campbell’s soup can along with the suggestion, “Bring what you Can” and directs viewers to donate to the Brookline Emergency Food Pantry

According to Kelley, the club also works to increase awareness for their cause through food drives, the school garden and the annual Hunger Banquet.

Roger Grande, a social studies teacher and adviser of the Food Justice Club, said that the club has met some challenges in getting the mural approved. The club wanted the mural to be directly on the building, but they could not get consent for that from the town.

Despite these challenges, Grande said that Cutlip and Kelley were persistent in their attempts at problem solving.

Cutlip said it took multiple visits to Assistant Headmaster Hal Mason’s office to get approval for the mural.

“I went into his office and just asked, ‘What is holding you back?’ the problem is that there are no billboards allowed in Brookline, typically,” Cutlip said.

Mason said that because of the town’s rules, the design evolved into a smaller piece that would be attached to the building rather than painted directly onto it.

“There are a lot of limitations and restrictions from having billboards around town, and this is essentially a billboard, so that’s really the main problem,” Mason said.

Mason said that he supports the project.

“I think it is great. I am happy to give publicity to the food pantry and the kids that are working there. We just can’t be attaching enormous billboards to the backs of buildings,” Mason said.

Although there are currently some challenges in adding artwork to school buildings, according to Grande, the benefits outweigh the drawbacks.

“I feel like we can put murals around the school, not just about food, but about 21st century issues like climate change and food justice, and I think those are actually incredible learning spaces,” Grande said. “They can be student controlled and student designed, and not to mention, they make the school more beautiful.”