‘A Place at the Table,’ reviewed by Marshall Fine


You watch a documentary like “A Place At the Table” and it makes you wonder about all the people who still regard large swaths of the population as takers. The thinking is that these people aren’t able to support themselves and their families because they don’t want to. They’d rather live off the largesse of the American government, because those federal and state spigots are so generous.

Except, as this film explains, even that bit of help – whether it’s school lunches, food banks, food stamps or other nutrition-related initiatives – isn’t enough to address the serious problem with hunger in the U.S. And, as it shows, they want to help themselves – but the continued shrinking of the social safety net, thanks to crazed deficit hawks, prevents it.

The figures cited by filmmakers Kristi Jacobson and Lori Silverbush in “A Place at the Table” (in limited release Friday 3/1/13) are shocking, with literally 50 million Americans suffering food insecurity – not enough to eat on any given day and no guarantee that there will be food tomorrow, either.

Jacobson and Silverbush look at hunger and its effects on a girl named Rosie in a small town in Colorado. Both parents work, but there’s no money for fresh food of any kind and barely enough for the kind of empty calories and processed foods that fill without necessarily nourishing. They find similar cases all over the country – families of the working poor, with two working parents and still not enough money to buy nutritious food – or else no place nearby to find it.

They also examine the ripple effects that this kind of hunger creates, from serious childhood development issues to school performance to day-to-day health and ability to resist disease and infection. And, as they show, it doesn’t cost a lot to make sure everyone has not just food but healthy food. That, however, would require a shift in priorities by the government that agribusiness is not going to allow to happen.

This review continues on my website.

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