It’s not that people are dying of starvation. But many Americans don’t have the food choices that you and I do.
The reasons are many and varied as A Place at the Table points out. The documentary goes to Collbran, CO; Jonestown, MS and Philadephia, PA to show real people and their difficulties obtaining a nutritious diet.
The two school-age girls in Mississippi and Colorado and the young single mom in Philly are the central characters in the film. Their problems, as depicted, are heartbreaking. The single mom, for instance, finally gets a job, but her pay, which disqualifies her for food stamps she had been receiving, is not high enough to feed her two kids and pay for daycare.
A Place at the Table features celebrities. Actor Jeff Bridges offers his thoughts about the nation’s food problems and mentions Hidden in America, a TV movie from 1996 that starred his brother Beau as a member of the “working poor.”
Top Chef’s Tom Colicchio appears to talk about his efforts as a hunger activist. His wife, Lori Silverbush, is co-director of APATT with Kristi Jacobson.
As do many advocacy films, A Place at the Table offers certain statistics and declarations without sufficient attribution. And, ironically, some of the people described as victims of hunger are, in fact, obese.
While the film encourages a variety of government actions to correct shortcomings, it is not an overly political film. Yes, Michelle Obama has a cameo, but APATT does not engage in bashing of any particular party or administration.
The film does takes aim at the US Department of Agriculture’s price supports, which APATT claims are inordinately high for commodity crops (corn, soybeans, etc.) but low for growers of more nutritious fruits and vegetables. The result is healthy fruits and veggies are too costly and limited funds (and food stamps) go toward less healthy foods that provide more calories for the buck.
The film’s highlights include many upbeat moments: a Colorado church offering a free hot meal each week to any and all, a group of Mississippi school kids learning to prefer honeydew melon as a snack over junk food, the Philadelphia mom sharing her pride in her accomplishments.
A Place at the Table brings attention to vital concerns and offers suggestions for improving conditions in America. But will it reach those persons who can affect change?
In addition to its theatrical run, the movie will be available starting March 1 for download on iTunes. By the way, APATT features cool music from The Civil Wars and T-Bone Burnett.