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New doc 'A Place at the Table' examines hunger in America

Barbie, a single mother, struggles to put healthy

Barbie, a single mother, struggles to put healthy food on the table. (Magnolia Pictures) Credit: Barbie, a single mother, struggles to put healthy food on the table. (Magnolia Pictures)

One in two kids in America will at some point during their childhood receive food assistance from the government. That's one of the more startling facts in the new documentary "A Place at the Table," and there are many of them.

Here's another: One in four kids in the U.S. are "food insecure," meaning at times they are uncertain where their next meal will come from.

The documentary by filmmakers Kristi Jacobson and Lori Silverbush and produced by "Top Chef's" Tom Colicchio, among others, was made to shine a light on hunger in America, to show viewers that it's a serious issue and one that requires action on the part of Americans.

"We want to change the face of hunger, and get the average person to understand this issue," said Colicchio. "The real message of this film is the ordinary citizen needs to say something. They need to stand up."

There is often a direct correlation between hunger and obesity. Subsidies for "agribusiness," or large-scale farms that grow the staple products in America (soybeans, corn and wheat), have created a massive amount of product that needs to be sold. The problem, the film suggests, is those foods are often turned into cheap, processed foods, from chips to sugary baked goods to high-fructose corn syrup (a sweetener), and are not good for you.

The film lays the blame for the devastating number of Americans who are food insecure (50 million), and for the obesity epidemic, squarely on the shoulders of government.

"We need to subsidize the growing of fruits and vegetables," suggested Colicchio.

Through interviews with real Americans, from a single mother in Philadelphia struggling to feed her kids, to a fifth grader in rural Colorado who lives in a food-insecure family, this film tells a story that is right in front of us. The question is: Will something be done about it?

"A Place at the Table" opens in theaters and premieres on iTunes and On Demand Friday.

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