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3/30/2013 9:06:00 AM
Movie draws attention to hunger in U.S.
Magnolia Pictures image
Barbie Izquierdo cooks for her children in “A Place at the Table.”
Magnolia Pictures image
Barbie Izquierdo cooks for her children in “A Place at the Table.”

A new film attempts to open people’s eyes to the prevalence of hunger in the United States.

“A Place at the Table” is available for viewing on iTunes and On Demand. 

Produced by the makers of An Inconvenient Truth and Waiting for Superman, the documentary looks at the stories of three families who struggle with hunger. According to the film, 50 million people in the U.S. — one in four children — don’t know where their next meal is coming from, despite our having the means to provide nutritious, affordable food for all Americans. Directors Kristi Jacobson and Lori Silverbush share the stories of three people struggling with food insecurity: Barbie, a single Philadelphia mother who grew up in poverty and is trying to provide a better life for her two kids; Rosie, a Colorado fifth-grader who often has to depend on friends and neighbors to feed her and has trouble concentrating in school; and Tremonica, a Mississippi second-grader whose asthma and health issues are exacerbated by the largely empty calories her hardworking mother can afford.

Their stories are interwoven with insights from experts including sociologist Janet Poppendieck, author Raj Patel and nutrition policy leader Marion Nestle; ordinary citizens like Pastor Bob Wilson and teachers Leslie Nichols and Odessa Cherry; and activists such as Witness to Hunger’s Mariana Chilton, Top Chef’s Tom Colicchio and actor Jeff Bridges.

Rabbi Daniel Isaak, a leader at Congregation Neveh Shalom in Portland, said he entranced as he watched the film. He recalled a 1968 CBS documentary, “Hunger in America,” that generated such outrage and enormous pressure that school lunches came into existence and the food stamp program was expanded. 

“The question is ‘Can we arouse that much anger in our society to overcome what’s going in Washington, D.C.?’” Rabbi Isaak said. 

Rabbi Isaak felt compelled to write an editorial on the subject, asking “Where is our sense of responsibility to those least able to defend themselves?” 

The U.S. Catholic Bishops’ 2002 pastoral reflection, “A Place at the Table,” says, “As Catholics, we must come together with a common conviction that we can no longer tolerate the moral scandal of poverty in our land and so much hunger and deprivation in our world. As believers, we can debate how best to overcome these realities, but we must be united in our determination to do so. Our faith teaches us that poor people are not issues or problems but sisters and brothers in God's one human family.” 

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