The process:
I re-created care packages based on stories I remember as well as stories that other service members, their families and friends have been kind enough to share with me. These boxes are not exact replicas; they are representative of particular people, times, places, circumstances, memories.

I photographed the packages and printed the photos and their stories on swaths of canvas. When displayed together, they resemble a large American flag; the contents of the care packages pictured on the individual panels illustrate the wide range of backgrounds of people who serve(d) in the armed forces.

The stories in this display date from WWII to present day and include officers and enlisted, women and men, from all branches of the US Armed Services.

I created the exhibit and presentations to highlight the many different people who serve(d) our country, as well as to illustrate ways we use food to communicate.
Each of these packages carries within it the message, “I love you. I miss you,” and each family conveys their love, longing and even their humor in their own unique ways, often by using foods that also reflect their traditions, heritage and region.
Feelings of love and longing are universal yet how this is expressed can be a window into culture, tradition, and background of service members and their families. Brought together, these images lend insight into our story as a nation.
Raising awareness of who serves in uniform is one way of fostering community and expanding our understanding of America.

I am working on expanding the scope of the project to go back as far as the Revolutionary War. If you have any family stories that might help with this, please get in touch, I would love to hear your stories.

This Care Package Story Project exhibit is currently on tour to military bases, VA hospitals, USOs, VFWs, and American Legions across the country, and overseas.
The exhibit and the presentations also travel to public libraries, universities, museums, culinary schools, municipal buildings, galleries, art clubs, book clubs, historical societies, police and fire stations, and other venues around the US.

There is no cost to venues to display the exhibit.

Along the way, I continue gathering care package stories and there is a form on the Your Stories page where people send me stories of their own, of their families, neighbors, and people they served with. I love getting stories of all eras of our history!

I will post many of the stories I receive on the Your Stories page on this website (whenever I have permission to do so from the people who share stories with me).

The Care Package Story Project Tour is made possible by contributions.
If you would like to contribute to the Tour or become a sponsor, please contact me at odale@CarePackageStoryProject.us
A portion of all proceeds from the Care Package Story Project goes to organizations that support veterans, service members, their families, as well as to the Service Women’s Action Network (SWAN).

Are you interested in having the Care Package Story Project exhibit come to your venue?
You can reach me directly by email at odale@CarePackageStoryProject.us .

Browse the Your Stories page to read more care package stories and to submit your own.

About the Artist:
My name is Odale Cress, I served in Europe as a (98G) Russian/Spanish Linguist during the Cold War.
I began this project in 2018 as part of my graduate thesis, to illustrate connections between culture and cuisine: “Food is a language; cuisine is its dialect.” The Care Package Story Project is one example of ways culture is revealed through foods, and through the connotations of certain foods, as well as by the many different ways we use food and cuisine to express ourselves. I also created this project to illustrate the wide range of people who serve(d) in the armed forces, to broaden our understanding of the America and who serves in uniform.
The above portrait of me was painted by Cape Cod artist, Mark Adams, who graciously gave his permission for me to include it here.

Special Thanks to:
All those whose stories are represented in this display;
as well as to Milo Cress, web design consultant;
Mark Adams, artist, portraitist;
Kim Daigneault, project consultant;
Le Zot Camera & Print Shop, Burlington, VT.