When many people think of hunger, they get those images of emaciated people living in third world countries in their head. So when we hear about “hunger in America,” they try to place those kind of images here, and well, that’s wrong. America is a first world country, one of the richest. Our issues with hunger aren’t as extreme as the third countries, yet it’s still critical. That’s what the new documentary, A Place at the Table, is all about. It removes any images or assumptions made and tells you the truth about hunger and food insecurity in the United States.
As someone who has experienced “food insecurity” a few times growing up, I can say that A Place at the Table gets it right. A cause championed by Jeff Bridges and several other health and nutrition experts; they shed light on the problems with the government’s food programs, including food stamps, public school lunches and nutrition.
Kristi Jacobson and Lori Silverbush direct a documentary that follows three people and their families as they struggle with food insecurity. We meet Barbie, a single mother living in Philadelphia, who grew up in poverty and is trying to make sure her two kids have a better life than she did. Then, there’s fifth-grader, Rosie, living with her mother, grandparents and cousins in a small town in Colorado. Rosie and her family frequently have to depend on the community to feed them. Rosie’s lack of food and proper nutrition is affecting her concentration in school. Finally, we head to Mississippi, the state with the highest amount of people struggling with food insecurity, yet the highest rate of obesity. (There is a connection there.) In Mississippi, we meet Tremonica, a second grader, dealing with health problems, such as weight and asthma, due to improper nutrition because her mother can’t afford anything but processed junk food.
As with all informative documentaries, Barbie, Rosie, and Tremonica’s stories are weaved together with experts’ opinions on why these people are living this way and how it’ll affect them and others in the long run. It was very enlightening to understand how and why the food programs in America are dismal. Being a first world country, there’s really no excuse for young kids, like Barbie’s, Rosie and Tremonica to get healthy meals. Yet, they’re stuck with Spagetti-Os and every cheap processed food you can think of for the only real meal they can afford each day.
Food insecurity is connected to the rise in child obesity and diabetes in the past decade. All that empty calorie consumption is causing kids to gain weight rapidly, which can cause numerous health issues in the future. America is raising a generation of unhealthy people, which will eventually cost them more money down the road than it would to provide more food stamp money to purchase healthier food and providing healthier school lunches for children.
I remember how public school lunches were like, and I was very lucky that I had grandparents who refused to let my brother and I eat it by preparing us a fresh lunch every day. But it’s clear that many kids aren’t as lucky as we are, and that’s what makes A Place in the Table a very relevant, as well as important, movie to watch right now. In addition, it’s a coherent and interesting documentary, well made by the directors. It offers the right amount of insight and information and is never redundant or far-reaching. T. Bone Burnett and The Civil Wars add a great touch to the documentary with some original music.
I absolutely recommend watching this movie. The fate of food insecurity is in the American public’s hands. It’s up to them to decide and force the government to consider the economical, sometimes cultural, and definite health effects that is being caused by lack of food benefits and inaccessibility to healthy food choices for American young folks.
A Place at the Table opens in select theaters and will be available on iTunes Friday, March 1st.