Starring: Jeff Bridges, Tom Colicchio, Ken Cook
Directed by: Kristi Jacobson (“Toots”) and Lori Silverbush (“On the Outs”)
The statistics are staggering in “A Place at the Table,” a documentary that explores the core reasons Americans are going hungry today. According to the film, 50 million Americans are considered “food insecure,” which means they do not know where they next meal is going to come from.
Imagine that. I can literally walk downstairs into my kitchen right now and make myself a sandwich or wash a handful of grapes or pour a glass of milk, but in 2013 there are 50 million people in a country considered the richest in the world who cannot do the same. And it isn’t because there isn’t enough food to go around. There are dozens of other factors. How hungry does Rose, a little girl from the small town of Collbran, Colorado, have to be when she daydreams her teacher and classmates are pieces of fruit during school? The obstacles, like many that American faces today, start at the top with decisions made by the U.S. government.
“A Place at the Table” isn’t shy about pointing the finger, although it would’ve behooved directors Kristi Jacobson (“Toots”) and Lori Silverbush (“On the Outs”) to also confront some of the individuals and powerful organizations who are contributing to the hunger epidemic. Instead, the filmmakers are comfortable enough doing 84-minutes of interviews with hunger campaign leaders and families who are experiencing their own personal food shortage. It’s an effective way, of course, to put a face on the problem, but it’s also one that needs someone to be held accountable for in a more meaningful way. Asking tough questions to those who are sustaining the problem (or even getting a few doors slammed in their face) would’ve answered so much more.
Still, as a call-for-help and hunger-awareness documentary that presents complex problems like farm subsidies, agribusiness, food stamp eligibility, and governmental funding for food in U.S. schools, “A Place at the Table” is a slap to the head of viewers who are unaware that hunger is not only a third-world issue. As Oscar-winning actor and founder of the End Hunger Network Jeff Bridges says in the film, “If another country was doing this to our kids, we’d be at war.” “A Place at the Table” has taken some of the first shots. It’s time for others to step up to the frontlines if they really want to make a noticeable difference in the way America takes care of its own.