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A Place to Eat

A Place at the Table, released March 1, 2013, is a documentary that continues where the film Food Inc. left off. Directed by filmmakers Lori Silverbush and Kristi Jacobson, and produced by Top Chef judge Tom Colicchio, A Place at the Table tells the story of the 50 million hungry Americans who are struggling to feed themselves. A number that mostly encompasses families, that 50 million also includes the one in four children who go hungry every day in the United States.

Try discussing with students some of the factors that contribute to the hunger problem:

Poverty and the High Cost of Healthy Food

Many low-income families can't afford healthy foods, and much of what they eat lacks nutritional value. The issue is not only affordability, but also access. Places known as food deserts are an immediate cause of unhealthy living, and the danger only increases in areas where most families incomes are low. The logic goes that if the community can't afford nutritious foods, grocers can't afford to stock them.

These are communities where many fresh foods simply don't exist, furthering the medical woes and other concerns associated with our snack-wrapped society. For most families that have difficulty affording or obtaining adequate amounts of nourishing food, seeking healthier choices outside of their neighborhoods is not realistic. Traveling produce markets are now bringing low-priced, healthy options to some of these areas, but grassroots campaigns can't feed everyone.

Inadequate Food Assistance and a Culture of Waste

Charity can't replace food programs. Nearly 44 million Americans receive less than $4 a day from the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP). A Place at the Table isn't only bringing attention to the problem, it's also attempting to contribute to a solution. There is nothing even close to a food shortage in America. According to "The Ugly Truth About Food Waste in America," an NPR story that aired shortly before last Thanksgiving, Americans waste 33 million tons of food every year. Its critical that we find a way to prevent that wasted food from reaching the trash bin.

A new pricing scale would have to go hand-in-hand with any potential food redistribution. Getting healthy food to underserved areas does little good if it's not affordable. As highlighted in the documentary Food Inc., the amount of money that goes toward the overproduction of corn, soy and other subsidies like wheat could be diverted to the production of fruits, vegetables and grass-fed livestock, providing that budget redistribution and subsequent actions were handled carefully.
Unfortunately, this type of change is often thwarted by significant lobbyist intervention and other actions by those with special interests. While feeding the country healthy foods might seem like a no-brainer, it isn't currently profitable on a large scale for much of the food industry.

For more information, check out A Place at the Table's website. The site also offers ways to take action against hunger and urges those concerned to contact their House and Senate representatives.

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