The weather is pretty nasty out there right now. But imagine if, on top of dealing with the snow and the ice, you were rushing around trying to find something to put on the dinner table for your family.
The new documentary "A Place at the Table" shows that an astonishing 51 million Americans, including 17 million children, don't get enough to eat each day. The film, which is now playing at Sundance Cinemas through Thursday, digs into some of the complex issues underneath the hunger crisis, and suggests ways for audience members to get involved.
I did a post-show chat after the film's 7:05 p.m. screening Tuesday at the theater to talk about the film and the issues it raises. The weather kept most folks away, but we had a good chat about the film; one woman talked about her own experiences growing up hungry, and what she sees volunteering in the lunchroom at a local elementary school. With only 20 minutes for lunch, kids aren't getting enough time to eat, she said, and they often end up eating the junk food packed in their lunches first.
The chat was part of a series I'll be doing with films in Sundance's Screening Room Calendar as part of my movie blog, madisonmovie.org. Here's my review of "A Place at the Table" from last week. Next up will be a chat after the drama "Any Day Now" on Tuesday, March 26 at Sundance.
As it happens, the Capital Times has been talking a lot about food security in the last couple of weeks. Specifically, food writer Lindsay Christians took part in the Food Stamp Challenge, in which she spent a week spending only what food stamp recipients get – about $5 a day – on food and drink.
By the end, Christians said she had grown frustrated and disheartened with the experience, and the constant, tiny compromises that have to be made every day.
"As an extrovert, I would go into debt trying to keep up with my friends, and if/when I couldn't, the lack of social contact would make me pretty miserable," she wrote. "Long term, I would become frustrated and angry and easily discouraged, especially if my situation were persistently seen as a moral failure or a willful deception on my part."
The movie is leaving Sundance on Thursday, but can still be viewed on video-on-demand and on iTunes. And the movie has a website, takepart.com, to continue the conversation and build what is hoped to be a powerful grassroots campaign to end hunger in America.