Last night, I was invited by the Green Lifestyle Film Festival to attend the opening night screening of “A Place at the Table” at the Nuart Theatre in Los Angeles. This provocative documentary, released by Magnolia Pictures, addresses the issue of hunger in the United States, a complex social issue that affects 50 million individuals living within our nation’s borders.
The film follows a Latina mother living in Philadelphia who struggles to feed her two children. In rural Colorado, a Caucasian fifth-grade student can’t concentrate in class due to hunger pangs and dreaming that her teacher is a member of the fruit family. In a small southern town in Mississippi, an African-American asthmatic eight-year-old girl lives on an empty-calorie diet made up entirely of chips and soda pop. Hunger affects all demographic groups and all nationalities.
I cannot fathom how one in four children in America do not know where their next meal will come from. Since seeing this film, I will never associate hunger with only the poverty-stricken areas of Africa. I left the theater perplexed by the enormity, severity and complexity of this epidemic crisis that will continue to escalate if we as a nation can’t get a handle on this issue.
As Michelle Obama brings child obesity to the nation’s forefront through her Let’s Move! Initiative, A Place at the Table further reiterates the message that lack of exercise is not the only contributing cause of overweight children in this country. The inability of individuals to access affordable and healthy food choices to feed their families is also a leading factor. Since seeing this film, I’ll never look at obesity the same way again, thinking that a few more jumping jacks or pumps of iron alone will make the problem go away. The next time I see an overweight kid snacking on a candy bar while waiting for a school bus, I’ll remember that hunger may be the chief underlying problem.
A Place at the Table will hopefully awaken our nation’s palate to do something about the hunger crisis in America and bring awareness to the millions of men, women, and children who go hungry each and every day. I encourage you to go see the film and wage your own fight against hunger.