FILM: A Place at the Table
When you think of hunger, what do you see? Perhaps you think of a thin, malnourished-looking child in a third-world country. Or maybe a scene of an impoverished, rural family living in a shack during the Great Depression. A Place at The Table, a new documentary film by Kristi Jacobson and Lori Silverbush, challenges these images, presenting the realities of hunger and those dealing with “food insecurity” in America today.
The film defines “food insecure” as “times during the year, uncertain of having or unable to acquire, enough food to meet the needs of all household members because of insufficient money or other resources for food.”
The statistics that the film provides are staggering: 1 in 6 Americans (50 million) is food insecure. One in 4 American children (17 million) is food insecure. And 44 million American are on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
While these statistics alone are shocking and enough to convince us that something is very wrong in this country, it is the personal stories that the filmmakers share with us that leave the biggest impression. We are first introduced to Rosie, a sweet fifth grade student in Collbran, Colorado. Often, Rosie’s family simply runs out of food and she must go hungry. We are also introduced to Barbie, a single mother of two living in Philadelphia, just barely getting by. At the beginning of the documentary, Barbie is only employed part-time and therefore qualifies for government assistance. During this time, she is able to provide enough food for her family. But once Barbie finds a fulltime job, she no longer qualifies for assistance and struggles to provide for her kids.
The film also introduces us a bit to Tremonica, a second grader in Mississippi. We learn that the state of Mississippi has both the highest rate of food insecurity in the U.S. and the highest rate of obesity. Initially, these two statics seem like they should be contradictory. However, we find out through Tremonica’s story, that the reasoning for this lies in the types of food she consumes when she is able to eat – chips, cookies, juices with high sugar content and very few fruits and vegetables. When food is available, her family feels that it’s better to load up on high-calorie foods.
In addition to the minimal assistance the government provides, as well as the issue of poverty, the film also points a finger at government subsidies as another contributing factor of why Americans’ eating habits have become so poor over the years. Recently, the government has provided subsidies to farmers growing crops that eventually are included in overly-processed, high-calorie snack foods. Since 1980, the film states, the price of fresh produce has risen by 40% and the price of processed foods has decreased by 40%.
A Place at the Table takes a deep look at all of the many facets surrounding hunger in America today. By interviewing specialists and presenting us with real life stories, the film succeeds greatly in relaying its message and inspiring us to help end hunger.
A Place at the Table is now in theaters.