13 photos capture the stunning diversity of one very universal experience: dinner.
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Gates Foundation: The Story of Food

In times when the world seems divided on just about everything, it's helpful to look at what we have in common — even something obvious.

That's what photographer Lois Bielefeld was aiming for with "Weeknight Dinners," a conceptual portrait series centered around typical evening meals, which she shot between 2013 and 2015. For Bielefeld, it was a way to document a near-universal experience that everyone can relate to. It's a display of common ground in one of its most basic senses.

Monday: Eric and Sally. 2013. All photos courtesy of Lois Bielefeld Photography.


The concept for the series emerged from Bielefeld's own interest in the social power of food.

Growing up, Bielefeld's chores included making a weekend meal, which was a family bonding event in and of itself. "I was less into the actual food until I got older and started regularly cooking and finding my own tastes," she says. "But even at a young age, I recognized food brings people together and is a way to explore different cultures."

For her, "Weeknight Dinners" is an extension of her own family's ritual, an exploration in other people's dinner habits.

Wednesday: Siena, Brian, Alivia and Leah. 2013.

Wednesday: Willie Mae. 2013

Wednesday: Emilio, Rhonda, Benedetto, Skylrae, Jacomo. 2014

Bielefeld chose to focus the series on weeknights for an important reason.

During the week, our rituals are shaped by the world around us. Work, school, and home — how we prepare for a meal between Monday and Thursday tends to differ from how we might dine on the weekends. For some, weeknight cooking might mean a plate of leftovers; for others, perhaps a microwave meal or carry-out. No matter what it is, no matter where you eat it, and no matter who you're with, it's simply a common part of most of our lives.

Wednesday: Glynis, Liam, Jorin, and Mona. 2013

Wednesday: Kathy. 2013

Wednesday: Natalia and Maryanne. 2014

The project also provides insight into how people actually are, as opposed to how they would like to be seen.

"My process is straightforward. I asked my subjects to prepare whatever they normally would for a weeknight dinner — nothing out of the ordinary," Bielefeld explains. "But I can’t control how people want to present themselves and occasionally I’d show up and there would be this elaborate meal with a Cornish game hen and fancy bowls with raspberries in it! But this to me is just as interesting and part of the series — how people want to be seen as opposed to their normal habits."

Monday: JoAlice. 2014

Monday: Nuco. 2014

Tuesday: Alden and Alan. 2014

As much as the project is about taking a look into the lives of others, Bielefeld hopes it inspires viewers to take a moment to consider their own place in the world.

The series is meant to be consumed as a series of large-scale prints where viewers can take time with each image and pore over the details in each room, gesture, meal, and subject. It's meant to inspire introspection.

"There is a strong sense of voyeurism and a subsequent self-identification that happens when looking at the photographs," she says. "I want people to see all of the similarities and differences that encompass our culture and hopefully be enriched by this. I also hope that they think about their own meal times and what is important to them."

Tuesday: Juanita and John. 2014

Tuesday: Seynabou, Rui James and Marie. 2014

Wednesday: Leo and Michael. 2014

For more photos from "Weeknight Dinners," visit Bielefeld's website.

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As millions of Americans have raced to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, millions of others have held back. Vaccine hesitancy is nothing new, of course, especially with new vaccines, but the information people use to weigh their decisions matters greatly. When choices based on flat-out wrong information can literally kill people, it's vital that we fight disinformation every which way we can.

Researchers at the Center for Countering Digital Hate, a not-for-profit non-governmental organization dedicated to disrupting online hate and misinformation, and the group Anti-Vax Watch performed an analysis of social media posts that included false claims about the COVID-19 vaccines between February 1 and March 16, 2021. Of the disinformation content posted or shared more than 800,000 times, nearly two-thirds could be traced back to just 12 individuals. On Facebook alone, 73% of the false vaccine claims originated from those 12 people.

Dubbed the "Disinformation Dozen," these 12 anti-vaxxers have an outsized influence on social media. According to the CCDH, anti-vaccine accounts have a reach of more than 59 million people. And most of them have been spreading disinformation with impunity.

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Photo by Daniel Schludi on Unsplash
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The global eradication of smallpox in 1980 is one of international public health's greatest successes. But in 1966, seven years after the World Health Organization announced a plan to rid the world of the disease, smallpox was still widespread. The culprits? A lack of funds, personnel and vaccine supply.

Meanwhile, outbreaks across South America, Africa, and Asia continued, as the highly contagious virus continued to kill three out of every 10 people who caught it, while leaving many survivors disfigured. It took a renewed commitment of resources from wealthy nations to fulfill the promise made in 1959.

Forty-one years later, although we face a different virus, the potential for vast destruction is just as great, and the challenges of funding, personnel and supply are still with us, along with last-mile distribution. Today, while 30% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, with numbers rising every day, there is an overwhelming gap between wealthy countries and the rest of the world. It's becoming evident that the impact on the countries getting left behind will eventually boomerang back to affect us all.

Photo by ismail mohamed - SoviLe on Unsplash

The international nonprofit CARE recently released a policy paper that lays out the case for U.S. investment in a worldwide vaccination campaign. Founded 75 years ago, CARE works in over 100 countries and reaches more than 90 million people around the world through multiple humanitarian aid programs. Of note is the organization's worldwide reputation for its unshakeable commitment to the dignity of people; they're known for working hand-in-hand with communities and hold themselves to a high standard of accountability.

"As we enter into our second year of living with COVID-19, it has become painfully clear that the safety of any person depends on the global community's ability to protect every person," says Michelle Nunn, CARE USA's president and CEO. "While wealthy nations have begun inoculating their populations, new devastatingly lethal variants of the virus continue to emerge in countries like India, South Africa and Brazil. If vaccinations don't effectively reach lower-income countries now, the long-term impact of COVID-19 will be catastrophic."

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