Thanks for featuring the film!
Individuals need to make their voices heard.
We had a Congressman tell us that he’s seen his colleagues change their vote on an issue if they received as few as 6 phone calls from their district, because they assumed another few thousand people felt the same way, but didn’t bother to call.
Unfortunately, the Congressmen and Congresswomen we met told us their phones aren’t ringing about this. They aren’t getting the emails, calls, texts, tweets, etc. that tell them people care about this.
They literally COUNT how many people contact them about a given issue on any day and then adjust their priorities accordingly. In other words — LET YOUR REPRESENTATIVES KNOW IT IS A PRIORITY TO YOU. And that you will base your decisions about reelection accordingly.
Please go to our website and learn how you can make an impact immediately, either on the federal level, or in your own backyard: http://www.takepart.com/table
I am thrilled that we were able to get Barbie, Rosie and Tremonica’s stories seen and we were able to help them as individuals. But there are over 50 Million people in the same situation every day.
The only way we are going to make a REAL difference in the lives of people who are experiencing the ravages of hunger, food insecurity, or malnutrition/obesity in this country is by demanding our elected officials stop kowtowing to big Ag and the corporate food lobby, and start passing, and funding adequately, policies that guarantee people can afford healthful food and have access to it. And in this era of extreme budget cutting, we need to protect those programs and make them untouchable, so people in this country can EAT.
Our politicians know it won’t cost more $$ than we’re spending on the dire effects of hunger and obesity, but they are allowing misinformation abount rampant costs and a culture of blame (of poor people, SNAP recipients, etc.) to substitute for real dialogue on these issues.
Please tell everyone you know to see the film — it’s on Demand or iTunes if not in their own city — so they know what’s going on. And then tell them to call/text/tweet/email their members of Congress IMMEDIATELY and demand they end hunger now.
This one is fixable.
Rosie is now in 7th grade. Her mom got a job as a home health aide and moved out of their house with Rosie, who was very excited to get her own room in the home of her mother’s new employer. The family is still struggling, as is Rosie, but she is excited that A Place at the Table may give other kids the courage to speak out about their family’s situation, without feeling the shame that is so ingrained in hungry kids.
Tremonica got to meet the First Lady last week when she visited the Mississippi Delta! The same educators who were responsible for working hard to turn around the problem at Jonestown Elementary School are taking the lead to make the Delta a region famous for fixing the issue of obesity/malnutrition. We are working with them to bring APATT to the region as an educational tool, and to put pressure on Mississippi legislators to take the issue seriously.
Barbie got a full scholarship to Esperanza College in Philadelphia as a result of her activist work on behalf of hungry women! We are incredibly proud of her. She continues to advocate on behalf of hungry people all over the country. :)
If only California’s low-income families had a lobbying group like their dairy industry does.
The exact benefits vary widely from state to state. An example of good government policy that could help fix the problem would be a standardized measure, based on the actual costs of real food (not the “thrifty food plan” that the Gov’t currently uses — an punitive measuring standard) that is pegged to what it actually costs to live in any given area (vs. the outdated and no longer meaningful ‘federal poverty level’).
The Food Research Action Center (www.frac.org) provides a really great understanding of this if anyone’s interested.
Jeff Bridges has joined up with Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry Campaign which is a really smart effort to get states to participate in federally-funded school breakfast.
The federal gov’t makes $ available for school breakfast in every state, but participation is optional in most of them. And because of pressure from cafeteria workers’ unions, teachers unions’, or just plain old intertia, many states do not mandate that schools provide school breakfast as a matter of law. And if they do, they don’t always do it in such a way as to guarantee that kids will participate (ie providing the breakfast in the classroom, vs. in a separate cafeteria, which could carry a stigma for kids who go there.)
The No Kid Hungry Campaign goes right to state Governors and shows them that they are leaving billions of federal dollars on the table by not participating and helps them eradicate the obstacles that may stand in the way (ie transportation issues, etc.). It’s working really well in Maryland, for example — participation in school breakfast is way up and — not coincidentally — so are test scores, etc. for the kids involved.
I didn’t know that…
I am not an expert on agricultural policy, but I do know that New Zealand ended their farm subsidies to big Ag back in the 1990s, and within a couple of years their agricultural output was up by 40%. In other words, farmers were forced to use the dictates of a free market to decide how much to plant (rather than overplanting commodities for a gov’t handout) and were forced to plant smarter, institute best practices, etc.
I’m not sure a nutritionally deprvied population is easier to control — look at the Arab Spring — it was the rise in food prices that spawned Tahrir square.
I think a sedated, complacent population sold a pack of lies are easier to control. And we certainly have that — people are being sold a pile of bunk about ‘takers,’ and the ’47%’ that provide them with convenient bromides so that they never have to ask the tough questions, i.e. ‘why are our leaders handing this country over to corporations?’
Community gardens are a great tool for education — especially for schools, when they are introduced into curriculums helping kids to understand where our food comes from, and how delicious fresh food can be. But in most of the country, the weather doesn’t permit them to produce a consistent, year-round supply of diverse crops sufficient to the need of the hungry people in that region.
Joel Berg, Director of the NY Coalition Against Hunge and one of our mentors, makes the point in his excellent book that community gardens were really popular in the 1970s, and today there are many empty, abandoned lots where those gardens once were. They depend on fundraising and volunteering — all good things, but not something you can count on over the course of years. And not when 50 Million are hungry.
The majority of food banks are supplied with the food that big corporate food producers haven’t been able to sell for one reason or another. They get a tax break for donating it to food banks, and get to avoid paying substantial dumping fees. On top of that, they get to enjoy what Janet Poppendiek calls the “halo effect.” By donating all that food they look like good guys in the public eye, even as they spend millions lobbying Washington to keep the minimum wage low, etc.
Food deserts are regions — both urban and rural — where the population has to travel far outside their immediate area – to access healthful food. About 75% of food deserts in the U.S. are in urban areas.
We were shocked to find food deserts in the middle of the lush agricultural south, and in densely populated cities, where folks would have to take numerous buses and subways just to buy a bunch of fresh greens or an apple.
I think the underlying problem is one of insufficient purchase power by the people who are going hungry or food insecure. People simply cannot afford food, even working people. 80% of all SNAP recipients have at least one working adult living at home.
We can make up the gap between what people can afford, and what food actually costs in a few different ways:
1) greater food stamp (SNAP) benefits, WIC, etc. so low-income people have more purchase power
2) a living wage so people can afford to buy food
3) price supports for healthful foods in the form of gov’t subsidies of fresh produce — the savings could be passed along to consumers in the form of cheap fruit and vegetables.
or my favorite:
4) all of the above
Most people are shocked to learn that, through a combination of intelligent, common-sense policies, and sufficient funding of those policies, the U.S. nearly wiped our hunger by the end of the 1970s.
Yes, we saw that alot. We tend to demonize people in this country for their “poor choices” but when you are of very low income, your true choices as to what food you can afford (or have access to, geographically) are profoundly limited.
Nutrition is a broader term, I think, which encompasses all topics pertaining to the food and nutrients we take in, and their effects.
Hunger specifically refers to the condition in which you are receiving insufficient calories or nutrition to lead a productive and healthy life.
Many people in the U.S. are ‘food insecure’ which speaks to the idea that one may not be experiencing classic hunger pangs or symptoms, but may not know where their next meal is coming from. The daily insecurity and anxiety this provokes — not to mention the lack of productivity and grinding fear involved — can have emotional consequences on top of the nutritional deficits the term implies.
The book came about a couple years later — by then we had many expert voices whose thoughts we wanted to share in greater depth than the film allowed. Participant, our producing partners, typically publish a companion book to each of their films, so we were given the opportunity to bring our experts ‘back to the table,’ so to speak, for the book.
Kristi and I started working on the film in 2008.
I was drawn to the subject because I was mentoring a young girl who was going hungry, routinely. And I could see how it was ravaging her life. It was devastating, and no matter how much food I gave her on any given day — I wasn’t fixing the underlying problem. It literally popped up again, the day after, and the day after that. It made me question our entire society’s approach to dealing with hunger — canned food drives, charity fundraisers, etc. We could provide meals, but we weren’t fixing the underlying problem.
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