Our social policy team has organized two Community Conversations in Longmont on the topic Hunger and Democracy. On Saturday, January 27th, at 12 noon at the OUR Center, we are showing the 2013 documentary film A Place at the Table, which documents the U.S.’s widespread and increasing hunger and food insecurity—lack of consistent access to nutritious food. Following the film, which lasts a little under 85 minutes, we will invite comments and questions from the audience.
On the following Saturday, February 3rd, same place, same time, a panel of local experts will lead a conversation about issues raised in the film and by audience members.
A Place at the Table explores the causes of hunger and food insecurity. Poverty plays a large role, of course. Hunger is about jobs and inadequate wages; food insecurity is common among the working poor. It results also from a federal government that subsidizes the production of processed food so that it is cheap and readily available. Big profits from corn, wheat, and soybeans allow megafarm corporations to invest in infrastructure to make processed food. Agribusiness spends millions lobbying Congress to continue the subsidies. (Money in Politics again.) Growers of healthy food like fruits and vegetables, usually smaller-scale farmers, are not subsidized.
The film recounts how the 1968 CBS-TV documentary Hunger in America caused Americans to insist on an improved federal safety net. Expansion of the food stamp program, the addition of a school breakfast program to the lunch program (begun in 1946), and other measures in the 1970s eliminated hunger almost entirely. In the 1980s, Congress began underfunding food assistance and other social programs, owing to the Reagan tax cuts, increased defense spending, and a new American attitude that the government is doing too much while the private sector does a wonderful job. Thus began the proliferation of “emergency” responses such as soup kitchens and food banks, and hunger went from emergency to chronic. Today perhaps 50 million Americans rely on a secondary food system called charity.
We urge everyone to attend the film screening and discussion on January 27th!
Plan on returning on February 3rd when speakers from four local and statewide nonprofits will provide their perspectives. Community Food Share, created in 1981 when hunger was beginning to be identified as a community problem, provides a large-scale food bank and mobile pantries, and supplies the OUR Center and many other agencies in Boulder and Broomfield Counties. Longmont Meals on Wheels provides hot, nutritious meals and a daily check to older adults and people with disabilities. Hunger Free Colorado connects people with nutritious food resources and works for change in systems, policies and social views. LiveWell Colorado is committed to reducing obesity (a kind of malnutrition) by promoting healthy eating and active living.
Click here for a summary of A Place at the Table. We also invite you to read about the reality behind eight common misconceptions about hunger