MESSAGE IN THE MOVIES
Photo By Magnolia Pictures
Directed by Kristi Jacobson and Lori Silverbush. Documentary
The world is full of hungry people, undernourished and often starving to death. America is the richest nation in the world and yet 50 million of us are “food insecure”, worried about where the next meal will come from and whether or not there will be food on the table.
A Place at the Table is a brief snapshot of the current state of the nation’s food supply and those who struggle to have more to eat.
This film also spends a bit of time demonstrating how the cost and often poor distribution of fresh fruits and vegetables tends to motivate those living on the edges of poverty into eating more processed foods, starches, and low-cost fast food.
Government-assisted school lunch programs are a mixed bag; more children in need are given a warm meal, but it is often nutritionally depleted and underfunded..
Several human-interest stories are interwoven amidst the factoids and polemics. We meet Rosie, an optimistic rural girl who lives in a blended farm family of limited means, and her schoolteacher who notices that Rosie’s mind often wanders during class time due to her hunger. The teacher works with her church and community to bring aid to poor families (including Rosie’s) and there is compassion in everything that she does; she remembers what it was like to grow up poor.
We also meet Pastor Bob, whose Assembly of God congregation has taken on the challenge to feed the poor through community meals and food programs. (Many of the federal programs that originally cared for the poor have been given over to charitable organizations, including churches.) The need for Pastor Bob’s food program is great and the ministry becomes a major outreach of their church. (I noted that the food bank the church runs is loaded with many bags of junk food; I sensed that the goal was to provide families with various kinds of food, including the stuff that all families buy at the story, including food that children might like and eat.)
We also spend time with Barbie, an intelligent and caring single mom. When she finally gets a full time job (helping other people in need in an assistance program), she loses the benefits she was receiving through food stamps and finds it harder to get by. I have heard this story many times myself throughout the years and I am convinced that you truly must start working with a sense of pride and purpose and be prepared to come up short for awhile. It is a particular dilemma of the poor that more Christians need to understand.
After the film ended, I was left rather disappointed with its message, which seemed little more than a pity party by humanitarians mourning what we have lost. To be sure, we should be sad about the current state of hunger in America, and I was pleased to see the many examples of Christian caregiving in this film. I am glad that the filmmakers care so passionately about this problem and are involved in championing this topic.
The answer to hunger in America and the world will take more than 88 minutes to solve. It will take a lifetime or more.
Four halos: A wakeup call to care about hunger. (Appropriate for families to watch together and highly recommended as a discussion starter, since no definitive conclusions or solutions are made.)
No pitchforks: .
Rev. Bruce Batchelor-Glader
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