“Shoebox Lunch”

“Shoebox Lunch” is a time capsule of memories that celebrates family food heritage and migration history. By engaging the senses of touch, taste, and smell, this interactive audio documentary highlights soul food traditions, their southern roots, and connections to Black history.

What is the significance of the title, “Shoebox Lunch”?

During the Jim Crow era, trains were segregated and Black people were not allowed to visit the dining cars. Many passengers would pack a meal in shoeboxes when traveling to southern cities. Road trips by automobile also presented challenges to a family looking for places to eat. Planning ahead with boxed lunches became a tradition.

What will I hear on the sound track?

The project features ambient train sounds and music to accompany each speaker, whose names are listed below. Except for the prelude, all the music tracks feature blues musicians who are blind. The songs may be downloaded for free at archive.org. You will find direct links by clicking on the song titles below.

Because this piece is interactive, you must have the boxed set in order to experience the project. People who have a copy of “Shoebox Lunch” will receive a private link to download the audio; please contact us at soulfoodstories-at-gmail if you need access.

Alberta Hunter, “Time Waits For No One”

Reverend Gary Davis, “You Got To Go Down”

Art Tatum and Les Paul, “Somebody Loves Me”

Blind Boy Fuller, “Get Your Ya-Yas Out”

Blind Willie Johnson, “God Moves On The Water”

Blake Alphonso Higgs (Blind Bahamanian Blake), “Jones Oh Jones”

Roosevelt Graves with the Mississippi Jook Band, “Skippy Whippy”

How is the project accessible to people with low or no vision?

Visual acuities vary from complete to partial loss of sight. The brochure inside the box set is printed in large-print superimposed on Braille, which is the print standard to reach multiple audiences. Increasingly, many people do not know Braille. Therefore audio allows the most flexibility and accessibility for sharing textual information. A written transcript is also available for people with other disabilities. For a transcript, please contact email soulfoodstories-at-gmail.com

All the objects in the box were designed to have hinged lids and other considerations to make the piece more accessible. Though universal accessibility is not possible, the project does attempt to maximize experiential engagement for people with different abilities.

I have the box set, but I ran out of some ingredients. Can you give me a refill?

If you need to replenish your supplies, just contact us by phone or email, soulfoodstories-at-gmail.com

How can I share my story?

To share your food and family stories on this website, call the GARLIC & GREENS free telephone hotline at 312-8700-GNG (312-870-0464).

Thank you, and enjoy!

Director: Fereshteh Toosi
Graphic Design: Jamie Sebold
Sound Engineering: Soapbox Music