Movie Review: A Place At The Table (2012)

Posted: April 6, 2014 in Documentary

A Place At The Table

Rosie is a little girl who lives with her mother and grandmother in rural Colorado, Rosie’s mother works as a waitress, but her meager salary puts her above the limit required for qualifying for food stamps. Rosie’s teacher sees a lot of Rosie in her. The teacher was so poor as a child that she had trouble concentrating on her work as a child. The teacher regularly goes to the food bank and delivers food to Rosie and other kids like her.

In Jonestown Mississippi, Ree a mother of 4 has to drive 30 miles out of the way to get fresh fruit and vegetables, because Rhee lives in a “food desert”, a place where fresh food and vegetables can’t be delivered. Also in Jonestown an 8 year old girl named Tremonica is obese. How can kids living in poverty be obese?

Barbie, a single mom with two kids living in Philadelphia has to figure out how to feed herself and two kids on the small government stipend. But some things are looking brighter. Barbie testifies with 40 other women in Philadelphia go to congress and win a slight increase in the food stamps program, and then Barbie gets a job, but does employment necessarily mean a better life for her and her children?

A Place At The Table is a mostly effective documentary with a definite political point of view, but when it’s not pouring out statistics and sounding like an ad for Jeff Bridges and his pet project on hunger, when it concentrates on poor people who have to live on food stamps, then the stories are compelling. It shows how difficult it is to actually feed children on a food stamps stipend .But it also shows how the poorest children become morbidly obese. The government actually subsidizes huge agrobusinesses, while the family farm is almost extinct. The Congress gets big campaign donations from the agrobusinesses and the agrobuissnesses make processed junk too cheaply, cheaper than fresh fruit and vegetables, and that’s why poor kids are obese, because all their parents can afford is cheap, processed, junk food. The problem is that the lobbyists who give the biggest donations are the ones the politicians listen to, and poor people don’t have a lobby. We have one party who created a huge bureaucracy that the poor can’t navigate, and another party who thinks government is the enemy and must be eliminated. They are both wrong, the bureaucracy must be streamlined, and the money must be sent to the people who need it the most, not the lobbyists with the biggest checkbooks.

We actually took the problem of hunger seriously in the1970’s, starting with Nixon. Yes, I said Nixon The film points out that surprising fact. Nixon and Carter did a lot to eliminate hunger in America, but we haven’t taken the problem seriously since. No one should ever be hungry in America, the faith community has done heroic work in feeding the hungry, the film also stresses this point, but people of faith can’t do it alone. They need help from a fully functional cohesive government to set standards, and fully fund programs so those standards are met. But the American government is so dysfunctional right now, it cannot solve the simplest problem.

A Place At The Table. Find a place for this film.

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