Tom Colicchio, Lori Silverbush, and Kristi Jacobson on Hunger in America

Friday, March 01, 2013

Lori Silverbush and Kristi Jacobson, directors of the documentary “A Place at the Table,” and chef Tom Colicchio, the film’s executive producer, talk about the crisis of hunger in America today. Despite having the means to provide nutritious, affordable food for all Americans, nearly 30 percent of families, more than 49 million people – and one in four children – are food insecure, which means they don’t know where their next meal is coming from.  “A Place at the Table” shows the struggle for poor families to find healthy, affordable food, and what we can do to address food insecurity. There’s also a companion book: A Place at the Table: The Crisis of 49 Million Hungry Americans and How to Solve it. "A Place at the Table" opens March 1 at Landmark Sunshine Cinemas and at the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center at Lincoln Center.


Tom Colicchio, Kristi Jacobson and Lori Silverbush

Comments [21]

Jef from Princeton

I've worked at various feeding programs including City Harvest. I'm also a single mom. Ive been on food stamps. And I know that the issue of hunger and malnutrition/child obesity is entwined with the issue of female poverty and the status of women . Divorce laws that leave women with a drop in socioeconomic status, lower female wages, and a minimum wage that hasnt kept pace with the cost of living combine to create a situation where single mothers are often working more than one job, with little time to shop and cook healthy meals. or to afford the ingredients, or to afford the neighborhoods where the ingredients are sold. These women arent just poor or stretched financially, they are stretched for time as well. Soup kitchens and food pantries help but not really-- the food is usually salty, starchy, fatty at a soup kitchen and pantries stock canned goods and packaged processed food. What these families need are Meals on Wheels, healthy prepared meals that are easy to reheat and serve. The Meals on Wheels program has had solid success in improving the nutrition of seniors. I propose that we do the same for poor families now.

Mar. 02 2013 09:54 PM
Noach (Independent, Anti-Corporate Traditionalist) from Brooklyn

@Marian from Bernardsville, NJ wrote,
"the recognition that charity alone would not eliminate hunger, and that political advocacy was necessary."

Indeed, charity can not and never will be a substitute for _justice_. Among the many people who have made this point is Cornell West, who, along with Tavis Smiley, have raised awareness with their "poverty tour". They have noted how "poverty" was almost a dirty word, barely mentioned, during the last presidential campaign.

The documentary film "Food, Inc." may provide a good introduction/overview to what the corporate food industry that we all subsidize has wrought.

Mar. 01 2013 12:57 PM
michael from brooklyn

Michael Chang?! Why do Americans love this guy so much? His restaurants SUCK. Do you want to know the "secret" to his food?? SALT SALT annd more SALT. I have had friends from all over Asian come visit and want to got Momofuky bc they've read so much about it and they ALL think it sucks.. its embarassing really. His food has not subtly and no refinement it just overload of flavor and salt. Americans know nothing about food.
I am italian when I grew upo we could eat amazing food for 1/100th the price of what American "foodies" spend on their pretentious crap.
Im hoping this will be addressed.

Mar. 01 2013 12:56 PM
Noach (Independent, Anti-Corporate Traditionalist) from Brooklyn

@steve from queens, 12:25 p.m.:

Absolutely! I completely agree with everything you wrote. (One exception, though: certain special, highly-restricted diets (that are truly necessary for certain people) can be considerably more expensive. )

Yet again, profiteering, mega-corporations are highly culpable here: They bombard us with relentless propaganda, in the form of slick, seductive, deceptive, often chillingly insidious advertising that influences our food-consumption tastes, desires and habits.

Mar. 01 2013 12:40 PM
Marian from Bernardsville, NJ

The grass-roots organization RESULTS,, exists to create the political will to end hunger and poverty. It was started 30 years ago in response to the recognition that charity alone would not eliminate hunger, and that political advocacy was necessary. There are RESULTS chapters in New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey, as well as many other states.

Mar. 01 2013 12:33 PM
xhype from xperspace

It's unfortunate, but I've come to the conclusion that the only way to end poverty and hunger is to promote (voluntary) population control among very low class people. Studies show that although low class people have less money, they have more children.

Mar. 01 2013 12:33 PM
Noach (Independent, Anti-Corporate Traditionalist) from Brooklyn

@susan from Brooklyn, 12:23 p.m.:
That sounds like a good point.

I would like to hear L.L. raise it but, sadly, I'm not exactly holding my breath.

@Larry from Brooklyn, 12:12 p.m.:

"Now we are overnourished"

1.) Are you actually disputing that far too many are _undernourished_?

2.) Many are over_fed_ but under_nourished_.

Mar. 01 2013 12:30 PM
Lee from Queens

If we eliminate agriculture subsidies tomorrow, what happens to the price of meat? It gets less affordable, and would prices of fruits and vegetables come down significantly? Wouldn't food prices go up across the board?
Wouldn't the plight of the undernourished get worse not better?

Mar. 01 2013 12:30 PM

Food spending as percentage of the household budget HAS GONE DOWN since the 1960's. This is one reason why AVERAGE WAGE has been allowed to decline as it has. IF wages had moved up with the gains in productivity - rather than having its value-added highjacked by shareholders and the 1 percenters, wages would be 16 TIMES their 1960s level. If, somehow, wages had kept their relative portion of GDP as 1968, the average worker would earn $52/hr. By focusing on inflation (rather than their share of national income), anti-unionism and illegal immigration, the American worker has been harmed by the government that should have been protecting him.

Mar. 01 2013 12:30 PM
DYV from Park Slope, Brooklyn

There are lots of unemployed people who don't live in "poor" neighborhoods in Brooklyn who could benefit from food assistance but it's almost impossible to get. The process for applying is more complicated than it should be. They tell you that you can apply online and do the interview by phone but it's simply NOT possible.

It isn't only children who are going hunger. Plenty of hard working adults who can't find jobs need help with hunger.

It would be great if these programs didn't assume that every hungry person looks the same.

It's supposed to be and FDA program but unless you ALSO need Welfare, it's almost impossible to get accepted into the SNAP program.
It's food. Every human needs to eat and not having access to food, not knowing where your next meal is coming from, having to choose between utility bills, medication or food is devastating to a person's sense of self.

With the massive amount of unemployment in NYC, we really need to rethink how we define the "hungry" population.

Food is basic. If folks need help with access to food they shouldn't have to jump through 20 bureaucratic hoops and wait two weeks or sit in the HRA office for 8 hours.

It is a public health crisis and we need to leave the judgment at the door and help people with something as simple as knowing they have something to eat every day.

Mar. 01 2013 12:29 PM
kc bentley from Massapequa

On March 9th, 2013 we will be hosting the first North Country Jr. Iron Chef Competition at St. Lawrence University, Canton, NY...
to develop healthy recipes using a combination of local and USDA foods that could be prepared in a school cafeteria. On competition day the teams will cook their recipe and present it to a panel of distinguished judges

Mar. 01 2013 12:28 PM
Dash from NYC

Curious if Lori and Tom have been in contact with Jamie Oliver, who has put great effort into changing school food, both in the UK and the US.

Mar. 01 2013 12:27 PM
Michael from new city from New City

could your guests address middle class families feeding their children fast food because of their busy schedules. my family does not eat any fast foodI but I know many families do.

Mar. 01 2013 12:26 PM
steve from queens

Before we attempt to blame the food stamp program for not doing enough, we have to do two things: fix the food stamp program so food stamps can only be used to buy quality foods (Bloomberg tried to take a step in that direction here by attempting to eliminate soda from something that can be purchased with food stamps; recall the backlash from people who rely on the system - I bet a lot of them are overweight and malnourished) and teach people about personal responsibility. Let's put it this way, we do not qualify for food stamps in this house nor can we afford to by junk food, so to put it simple we don't eat it. if you are on a budget you have to eat only the most beneficial calories you can buy - not chips, soda, candy and other garbage.

Mar. 01 2013 12:25 PM
Noach (Independent, Anti-Corporate Traditionalist) from Brooklyn

After making my previous post, I realized that I am not sure that it was The NY Times that described Greenspan as "saintly". I tried Google just now but was unable to verify this.

Perhaps someone out there can help?

Anyone know which publication or entity it was who used the word, "saintly" to refer to Greenspan?

Mar. 01 2013 12:24 PM
susan from brooklyn

Isn't Mr.Colicchio being a bit hypocritical since restaurant kitchen staff is paid so poorly they have a very difficult time supporting their families, hence causing their families to fall into the 30%? Yes, these workers do get the benefit of "family meal" provided by the restaurant, but their families still suffer becasue of the poor wages paid.

Mar. 01 2013 12:23 PM
Suzanne Mannion from NYC area

I encourage listeners to get involved with grassroots organizations to help address the problem locally. Community Plates uses a volunteer-based model to rescue food from restaurants, grocery stores, etc. and delivers the same day to receiving agencies such as food pantries. This allows more FRESH FOODS. If everyone gave just an hour a week to transport food, it would make SUCH a difference.

Mar. 01 2013 12:20 PM
Noach (Independent, Anti-Corporate Traditionalist) from Brooklyn

Glad to see coverage of this issue.

Reminder: Even during that "fairy tale economy" [sic] presided over by the man who the NY Times characterized as, "the saintly", Alan Greenspan and Bill Cinton, there were a staggering number of Americans without sufficient food.

Mar. 01 2013 12:13 PM

Thank you Tom Colicchio for being part of this film. I will spread the word.

Mar. 01 2013 12:13 PM
Larry from Brooklyn

Subsidies were first created to increase calorie availability for an undernourished nation. Thus, the focus on basic commodities (there are few calories in vegetables). Now we are overnourished but the subsidies have not changed to reflect that.

Mar. 01 2013 12:12 PM
George from Brooklyn

How has the ongoing budget battle affected the funds allocated to the poor?

Please mention how meals on wheels programs can reduce the number of senior citizens in nursing homes.

Mar. 01 2013 02:42 AM

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