Monday, March 25th, 2013

A Place At The Table

This quietly unassuming new documentary is unquestionably one of the most powerful sobering wake-up calls I have sat and watched for a very long time. Without any of the dramatic shock tactics and megaphone shouting of high profile exposes from the likes of filmmakers such as Michael Moore, the movie carefully rolls out a stream of the most frightening statistics about hunger caused by poverty in the USA today that just totally numbs one. 
Basic fact number: there are 50 million people in this country today  ….. still one of the richest in the world …. that suffer from hungry even though we have more than enough food to feed them.  
Filmmakers Kristi Jacobson, Lori Silverbush criss-crossed the country to interview all manner of different families who are struggling just to make ends meet.  A single-mother of 2 in Philadelphia who battled to get food stamps only to lose them again when she got a low-paying full-time job that made her worse off: a fifth grader from Colorado who’s three generation family are all working and squeezed into a tiny scruffy house, constantly ran out of food; an overweight young Mississippi girl who’s diet of the cheapest snack food which was all her mother could afford even though it was seriously risking her health. The irony of the poor girl’s situation is that her home State has the most undernourished people who are also obese.
The health professionals talked about their concerns about the lack ‘food security’ the term they use for availability of food and one’s access to it.  With indisputable facts like the price of fresh fruit and vegetables has gone up by 40% since 1980 whilst at the same time processed food has gone down by 40%
no-one pretends that families on the poverty line have little choice than making bad eating choices just to get by.
There are ways out, but as most of these have to be initiated by politicians, there is scant chance of much ever happening. After all poor people matter little against the powerful mega-agricultural conglomerates who still reap some $20 billion a years in subsidies they don’t need and that could make a significant difference elsewhere.  We follow the progress through the Senate of the renewing of the legislation that supplies funds for School Dinners … at the moment each school is left with a mere 99c for food when it take out its other costs ….. they got an increase of 6%!  But to pay for the increase they cut the Food Stamps Program.

All the facts are startling …. even the few good ones that it was Nixon’s program that all but eradicated hunger in the US in the 1970’s. The fact that even under a socially responsible President like Obama, the current situation is allowed to deteriorate rapidly.  As actor Jeff Bridges, a passionate activist who founded End Hunger Network 30 years ago put it ‘if another country was doing this to our kids, we would be at war’.  He’s right it’s insane and totally inhumane, and completely avoidable.

Totally Unmissable.  Currently in US theaters and also On Demand via Itunes.  There is a also a companion book.



Posted by queerguru  at  19:37


Genres:  documentary

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