Prince George’s Community College hosting Black food festival

A two-day festival celebrating Black food culture kicks off Friday morning at Prince George’s Community College. The Black Food, Black Futures Festival also hopes to raise awareness about food insecurity in the Maryland county.

The free event will run Friday and Saturday at PGCC in Largo.

“We have all kinds of experts, and not just even people who cook food, but people who practice herbalism and really digging deep into what Black Maryland culture has to offer for everyone,” Dr. Iyelli Ichile, a professor of history and African American studies at PGCC, told WTOP.

“The legacy of food, whether we’re talking about crab recipes, or various approaches to soul food, all of that is so rich in this area. And it’s got its own Maryland flavor,” she added.

The two-day event is, in part, a celebration of that Maryland flavor, and you can expect the vibe to be something like a big cookout.

“Besides panel discussions on those issues, Black farmers and gardeners from around the region will be on hand,” she said. “There will also be workshops and cooking demonstrations, including one focused on Southern soul-healthy options by Denise Ware-Jackson, who is the associate dean of health, wellness and hospitality at PGCC.”

The event is also partnering with the Capital Area Food Bank for a major food drive, because the purpose of the festival is to also highlight the staggeringly high number of people suffering from food insecurity in the county.

“Prince George’s County has had a long standing reputation of being kind of a very affluent African American county in our country,” Ichile said. “But in some ways, that narrative covers up the fact that there are a significant number of people” who struggle with food insecurity.

“It doesn’t always look like people who live in shelters or people who are unhoused. Sometimes people who are working experience food insecurity,” she said. “The fact is that we have students who are in college, but sometimes making decisions between buying textbooks and buying meals.”

In addition to the celebration of food, anyone who attends is encouraged to bring nonperishable foods to donate.

The donations will go to the Capital Area Food Bank as well as the food pantry at the school.

Black-owned food trucks will also be there on Saturday.

Tickets and some of the food samplings are free and can be found online for anyone who wants to attend. You’ll have to pay for anything from participating food trucks and other vendors. Some events are also targeted at kids.

“We want to celebrate Black food culture. And we also want to spotlight the food that Black people need,” Ichile said. “In some ways, we’re more acutely affected by the issue of food insecurity. So we want to talk about how moving into the future we can plan better, we can strategize together, we can support one another and the people who are working on those solutions in the future.”

The event will happen rain or shine, with events both indoors and outdoors. Some outdoor events can also be moved inside if the weather necessitates it.

John Domen

John started working at WTOP in 2016 after having grown up in Maryland listening to the station as a child. While he got his on-air start at small stations in Pennsylvania and Delaware, he's spent most of his career in the D.C. area, having been heard on several local stations before coming to WTOP.

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