I didn’t know there was a museum devoted to southern food until our regional administrator, Bill Ludwig, was notified that he had been selected to receive their inaugural Humanitarian Award for Public Service. The Southern Food & Beverage Museum is appropriately located in New Orleans, where food is definitely an art form!
When I asked museum president and director Liz Williams about the inspiration for the award, she said, “We wanted to create an award that reflects that public service and being a humanitarian can work hand in hand. We wanted a person who had long service, who was doing good, and who was doing that good just because, and not to get recognition. We considered others, but Bill rose to the top.”
The award Williams presented to Ludwig was also unique. She said that they didn’t want just an ordinary plaque, but one that reflected “the organic and sensory aspects of food.” The one-of-a kind plaque was created by local artist Lizzy Fair and was presented during an evening event on September 16, to which museum board members and supporters were invited.
In addition to the museum’s award, Louisiana Lieutenant Governor Jay Dardenne issued a proclamation in honor of Bill Ludwig’s service, which proclaimed him as a “Louisiana ambassador” and requested “all citizens of Louisiana to show…respect and honor.”
Recognition for RA Ludwig’s work was part of the museum’s third annual symposium, this year with the theme, “Hungry in the South.” The inspiration for the theme was the USDA’s annual food security report which illustrates that the southern part of the United States suffers the highest levels of food insecurity. The symposium included a panel discussion, moderated by Ludwig, which focused on childhood hunger in New Orleans. Panelists included Natalie Jayroe, president and CEO of Second Harvest Food Bank of New Orleans and Acadiana; Rhonda Jackson, Louisiana director of Share Our Strength; and Daphne Derven, special projects manager for the Emeril Lagasse Foundation. All of these organizations have been working together to increase sponsors, sites and participation in the Summer Food Service Program in New Orleans. Partnerships are a hallmark of Ludwig’s work.