We all have our life’s vices and banes. We create a world within the world in which we live and allocate our time, attention and dreams to. Outside of that world, we know little of what exists, except that something must exist.
A place at the table takes an informative look into the lives of the less fortunate. The poverty-stricken world we try to exclude ourselves from for mental and psychological security, knowing we had/have nothing to do with creating the problem, brings about yet another saga involving the tragedy of the commons, where individuals are unlikely to risk themselves for the greater good.
The movie showcases primarily three females: two second-graders, Rosie and Tremonica (from Colorado and rural Mississippi, respectively) and Barbie, a single mother from the streets of Philly. All three females, living in different areas suffer from similar conditions–poverty and hunger.
Rosie belongs to a white, lower-middle socioeconomic class. Seven members of her family reside in the same house, which has a negative effect on the family’s food stamp allowance. Tremonica has health problems consistent with her lack of nutrition, and Barbie, a single mother with two kids has to survive on food stamp allowances totalling 3 dollars a day for her family.
The movie focuses much on the information provided to us about the current hunger crisis in the US. For one, it is made amply clear that there is no shortage with food in the United States as can be attested to one of the largest obesity rates in the country. Interestingly enough, Mississippi has the highest obesity rate and the highest insecurity (fear of where the next meal will come from) rate. Furthermore, over the past 30 years, food subsidies have been provided for processed foods instead of their healthier counterparts. This has increased health issues, funded agro-business (ranking 2nd in the US lobbying department) and helped create one of the biggest hunger crises the US has seen in decades.
The biggest aspect a place at the table provides is information about our crises and where we stand on it. What it lacks is a harsh look at which people are deliberately responsible for the problem and what is directly needed for a reform. Who benefits from the current state? Agro-business, which, shockingly, ranks 2nd in US lobbying, greatly benefits from processed food. The medical industry? What about all the political motivations and those that continue to lobby in favour of these malpractices?
These are the harsh questions that needed to be asked; however, perhaps another documentary, one focusing on the close scrutinies of these measures can undertake. Alas, we are left with an informative documentary and nothing much else. It’s a good start, but does nothing more than to trigger our empathy with the less fortunate.