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Food at the 1963 March on Washington

Smithsonian has several articles on the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington on August 28, 1963, including an oral history and a play-by-play account of the event. Their Food and Think blog is covering another facet of the original march: what they ate that day. Early estimates of 100,00 to 150,000 people were overly conservative. How do you feed that many people? Organizers encouraged marchers to bring their own food and water, but they were ready for more.

In New York, volunteers showed up at the Riverside Church at 3:00 AM to make bagged lunches  The bagged meal, comprised of a cheese sandwich, mustard, marble cake and an apple, could be purchased by marchers for 50 cents. Working in shifts until 4 in the afternoon, the assembly line crew paused once for a few words from Dr. Robert Spike, director of the Commission on Religion and Race of the National Council of Churches: ”As an act of love, we now dedicate these lunches for the nourishment of thousands who will be coming long distances, at great sacrifice to say with their bodies and souls that we shall overcome.” In all, 5 tons of American cheese went into the 80,000 lunches that were loaded onto refrigerated trucks and shipped down to Washington.

Other plans were made to feed the many policeman at the event, but liquor sales were suspended in Washington -except for the Congressional cafeteria. Read more at Smithsonian. Link

(Image: The National Archives)

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