Susan Granger’s review of “A Place at the Table” (Magnolia Pictures/Participant Media)
50 million people in the United States – one in four children – don’t know where their next meal is coming from. That’s not only a startling statistic but a horrifying warning because the national issue of hunger poses serious economic, social and cultural implications for our nation. In this informative documentary, Kristi Jacobson and Lori Silverbush take a look at the correlations between poverty and hunger in America, following three people suffering from “food insecurity.”
Rosie, a ravenous fifth-grader from Colorado, often relies on junk food from neighbors and charities, admitting she often pictures her fellow students and teachers as pieces of fruit. Barbie, a Philadelphia single mom, tries to feed her two youngsters using food stamps, but when she gets a low-paying job, she’s suddenly disqualified from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and loses her subsidized child care as well. And Tremonica, an obese Mississippi second-grader, suffers asthma, exacerbated by her ‘empty calorie’ intake of processed foods.
“The relative price of fresh fruits and vegetables has gone up by 40% since 1980, while the relative price of processed foods has gone down by 40%,” points out food activist Marion Nestle. “We’re spending 20 billion a year on agricultural subsidies for the wrong foods.”
In America, there’s no lack of food but there is shameful apathy about our disjointed food-stamp system that makes the working poor ineligible for help. Articulate representatives for the Congressional Hunger Center and Witnesses to Hunger explain trying to get traction in Washington, D.C., while Oscar-winning actor Jeff Bridges introduces his End Hunger Network, noting that hunger is a crisis “our own government is ashamed of acknowledging…if another country was doing this to our kids, we would be at war. It’s just insane!”
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “A Place at the Table” is an enlightening 8, hopefully propelling people to take action.