This National Conversation on Hunger Deserves "A Seat at the Table" Review

About once a year a documentary comes along that gets the public's attention by highlighting a major issue in the US and all the ways it affects them. Last year it was Alex Hirsch's Bully, in 2011 it was The Interrupters, in 2010 it was Davis Guggenheim's Waiting for 'Superman', and the list goes on. This year, there's no better contender than A Place at the Table which chronicles the struggles of trying to survive on America's food stamp program, the shortcomings of our schools' lunch programs, the detrimental effects hunger has on children's development, and the politicians whose solutions are little more than defunding one program the poor need to supplement another. Directors Kristi Jacobson and Lori Silverbush bounce us between testimonials of parents trying to make ends meet, health professionals, volunteers, hungry children, and Jeff Bridges (who's made solving child hunger his philanthropic effort of choice).

As is pointed out over and over throughout the documentary, hunger is not a problem America should have; the food is plentiful, but unfortunately the caliber of food that's subsidized and the systems in place to help it get where it needs to go seem to get worse every year. It's not an accident that the snack foods you see on the counters of delis or in the aisles of your grocery store are so cheap; at one point the US government chose to subsidize a number of crops to the amount of $20 billion in their desire to support the average American farming family in a country that was increasingly placing focus on non-agriculturally focused business. In so doing, farming became an attractive proposition and soon farms were being bought and combined into large industrial complexes which no longer needed the subsidies.

Meanwhile, the farmers who grow the fruits and vegetables our population badly needs to eat healthy don't receive similar subsidies and consequently the essential building blocks of a nutritious diet are too expensive for people living on our country's meager food stamps programs and for our school meal programs. And so our children get fatter without necessarily feeling full after eating a meal, instances of diabetes in the country skyrocket, and bright futures are diminished as malnutrition becomes an obstacle to children realizing their full potential in school. The tools to solve the problem are easily within America's grasp, the question is can politicians make the right choice even if it means giving up the money of powerful lobbyists who'd rather see the money go elsewhere?

If enough people take notice, they can decide on election day.

Blu-ray Bonus Features

There are a lot of additional supplements here including an audio commentary, deleted scenes and extra interview footage, a promo piece produced for television, and a profile piece on Plum Organics' program for feeding children round out the disc.

"A Place at the Table" is on sale June 25, 2013 and is rated PG. Documentary. Directed by Kristi Jacobson, Lori Silverbush. Starring Jeff Bridges.

Lex Walker • Editor

He's a TV junkie with a penchant for watching the same movie six times in one sitting. If you really want to understand him you need to have grown up on Sgt. Bilko, Alien, Jurassic Park and Five Easy Pieces playing in an infinite loop. Recommend something to him - he'll watch it.


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