MSN Causes, TakePart Launch Campaign to Fight Hunger in America

The Hungriest States in America: The New Truth About Our Underfed Nation

Ahead of schedule, MSN Causes & TakePart launch a campaign to address hunger and poverty in the world’s wealthiest nation. Slated to go live today, the issue launched Friday, September 14.  Editors announced that parent company Participant Media has set a date for the release of its documentary film that chronicles hunger in the US. “A Place At The Table” goes into wide release in March, 2013.

 Also available on the site is an interview with Johnathan Bloom, author of American Wasteland: How America Throws Away Nearly Half of Its Food (And What You Can Do About It). When asked about the American mindset toward food waste, Bloom put the problem in perspective.

Our love of abundance, on the micro and macro scale, yields much waste. Farmers grow as much as they possibly can, then don’t harvest or sell a good amount of it. Supermarkets order and stock an unnecessary amount of food. And we buy so much fresh food that we couldn’t possibly eat all of it before it goes bad. This is linked to the human instinct to protect against starvation, but we put a real spin of “American excess” on it.

Another factor at play is the more recent phenomenon of demanding perfect, beautiful food. We’ve reached a point where appearance trumps taste. Anything that’s the wrong shape, size, color, or is slightly imperfect in any way will be cast aside. And given the national and international food chain, this means a dramatic amount of waste.

The American mindset is only half the problem. Poverty is a significant factor in food insecurity. In “Number Shock” the site offers the following:

English: US Census map of poverty across US

Fact: Poverty is the primary cause of hunger in the U.S., according to the U.S. Census.
(Source: US Census)

What it means: It sounds simple, but the fact that it is poverty—not food scarcity or another obstacle—that keeps people from eating means that addressing the causes of poverty is the way to solve the hunger problem.

Fact: The number of states in which a person working full-time at minimum wage can afford a two-bedroom apartment: zero.
(Source: National Low Income Housing Commission)

What it means: It means that even hard-working people can’t afford to live in basic quarters and feed their families in America.

Fact: Sixty-seven percent of Americans support gradually raising the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to at least $10 an hour, including 52% of Republicans.
(Source: Public Religion Research Institute)

What it means: It’s time for our laws to catch up to today’s cost of living and what the people want.

What you can do: Tell Congress to raise the minimum wage.

 
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A Place at the Table

Later this year, Participant Media, the production company behind award-winning films such as The Help, Food, Inc., Waiting for Superman, and The Soloist, will release a new documentary film focused on food insecurity in America.

Synopsis

49 million people in the U.S.—one in four children—don’t know where their next meal is coming from, despite our having the means to provide nutritious, affordable food for all Americans. Directors Kristi Jacobson and Lori Silverbush examine this issue through the lens of three people who are struggling with food insecurity: Barbie, a single Philadelphia mother who grew up in poverty and is trying to provide a better life for her two kids; Rosie, a Colorado fifth-grader who often has to depend on friends and neighbors to feed her and has trouble concentrating in school; and Tremonica, a Mississippi second-grader whose asthma and health issues are exacerbated by the largely empty calories her hardworking mother can afford.

Their stories are interwoven with insights from experts including sociologist Janet Poppendieck, author Raj Patel and nutrition policy leader Marion Nestle; ordinary citizens like Pastor Bob Wilson and teachers Leslie Nichols and Odessa Cherry; and activists such as Witness to Hunger’s Mariana Chilton, Top Chef’s Tom Colicchio and Oscar®-winning actor Jeff Bridges.

Ultimately, A Place at the Table shows us how hunger poses serious economic, social and cultural implications for our nation, and that it could be solved once and for all, if the American public decides—as they have in the past—that making healthy food available and affordable is in the best interest of us all.

Jeff Bridges
Jeff Bridges, founder of End Hunger Network

The film stars Jeff Bridges who founded the End Hunger Network over two decades ago. Today, the nonprofit’s mission is to eradicate hunger in America by 2015. According to Bridges, the organization began with a mission of ending world hunger because “hunger had been ended in the U.S. We have now shifted our focus to America.” In 2001, Bridges was a recipient of Action Against Hunger’s “Restaurants Against Hunger Campaign” gala awards dinner.

Tom Colicchio
Tom Colicchio, celebrity chef and executive producer.

Joining Bridges is celebrity chef Tom Colicchio who also executive produced the film. Perhaps best known as the judge on Bravo’s television reality show, Top Chef, Colicchio is an author and three-star restaurateur. In 2010, he received the coveted James Beard Award for Outstanding Chef. Coliccio is an active philanthrope and a longstanding supporter of hunger-related causes, including The Food Bank for New York City, The Lunch Box Fund, and Feeding America (formerly Second Harvest).

The film’s directors Kristi Jacobson and Lori Silverbush won acclaim at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival when the documentary film received a nomination for the Grand Jury Prize under the title Finding North.

Also making an appearance in the film is activist Mariana Chilton from Witness to Hunger, a project of the Center for Hunger Free Communities at Drexel University’s School of Public Health.

In conjunction with the documentary’s theatrical release, Participant Media plans to launch an interactive social action campaign in association with Take Part.  A think-tank of nonprofits, field specialists, and private companies will convene later this year to address the immediacy of America’s hunger crisis, as well as the causes and policies that contribute to the food insecurity and under-nutrition of nearly 50 million citizens in the world’s wealthiest nation.