| NEW YORK, March 1
NEW YORK, March 1 What do a police officer, a
teacher, a rancher, and a second grader have in common? They all
go hungry despite living in one of the wealthiest countries in
Documentary film "A Place at the Table," which opens
nationwide on Friday, shines a spotlight on the prevalence of
hunger in the United States through the personal stories of some
of the millions of Americans who struggle to feed themselves and
"There is this perception that it's a tiny marginalized
group of people who are facing it, but at this point we're
looking at 50 million Americans," director and producer Lori
Silverbush told Reuters.
Silverbush and fellow director Kristi Jacobson said that the
scope of problem remains largely hidden in the United States
because people often associate hunger with images of children
with sunken cheeks in developing countries. Many citizens are
also ashamed to admit they cannot afford enough food.
"It's not what we are conditioned to think hunger looks
like," Jacobson said.
Hunger and obesity sometimes coexist in the same person, and
"A Place at the Table" draws connections between this seeming
In the film, New York University nutrition professor Marion
Nestle notes that the price of processed foods has decreased by
40 percent since 1980 while the price of fruit and vegetables
has gone up by the same amount. The price disparity has helped
drive the obesity epidemic, especially among low-income groups,
FOOD DESERTS BEREFT OF FRUIT, VEGETABLES
Tremonica, a second grader in the Mississippi Delta featured
in the film, suffers from both hunger and obesity, and her
mother says that she often cannot afford fresh food for her
"I think it's really important to think about hunger and
obesity as opposite sides of the same coin," said Bill Shore,
founder and chief executive of Share Our Strength, which works
to eradicate child hunger in the United States.
Access to healthy food can be a problem in "food deserts," a
term for areas in both urban and rural communities where fresh
food is scarce.
North Philadelphia mom Barbie is filmed taking a two-hour
round trip bus ride to get to a supermarket with a better
selection than the ones in her neighborhood.
Even with a full-time job, she often finds herself feeding
her children tins of cheap, small, prepared meals because she
can't find or afford much else.
Jacobson and Silverbush hope that their film helps raise
awareness about hunger and inspires people to take action.
"We know how to fix hunger. It's not a mysterious condition
that we don't know what causes it," Silverbush said.
"When we speak to (U.S.) legislators, they tell us that
their phones aren't ringing on this issue, they're not getting
texts, they're not getting emails. That's why we made this
movie, to convince people that if they decide to engage on this
they will have agency and we will change it," she said.
Some of the solutions proposed in "A Place at the Table"
include expanding food stamps, ensuring that all children who
qualify for free school lunches have access to them,
implementing nutrition education, reexamining farm subsidies,
and revising guidelines for federal food assistance.
A social media-based action campaign accompanies the launch
of the film to connect people with information about anti-hunger
(Editing by Jill Serjeant and Eric Walsh)