By Olivia Nalugya, Staff Writer
Last Tuesday, the Center for Civic Engagement of Kalamazoo College screened an eye opening and sadly rare movie entitled A Place at the Table. This film is centred on food insecurity, hunger and hunger prejudices in the United States.
The movie commenced with an exploration of how hunger has affected young Americans. Children featured in the movie indicated that they cannot pay attention in class because they are hungry and “all (they) can think about is food.”
More heartbreaking was their parents who helplessly narrated their struggle with putting food at the table. Food insecurity is a situation where individuals are oblivious of where their next meal will come from.
The movie disclosed that one in six American families are food insecure.
A major theme of the movie was the ignorance and denial of several Americans of the aggravated nature of hunger as a problem in the United States. It affirmed that hunger is always attributed to malnourished and skinny looking people ‘somewhere,’ yet in actual sense hunger and obesity go hand-in-hand.
Supplemental Nutritional Assistance formerly known as ‘food stamps’ is budgeted in such a way that a family spends approximately 4.5 dollars on food per day. Thus, most families opt for cheaper and less healthy food, which can cause health complications such as being overweight.
Phyllis Hepp, a representative from Loaves & Fishes – an organization that offers food assistance to families – informed the audience that people are also discriminated against for seeking food support.
“It makes me angry that people experience social stigma for something that is happening on a systemic level that they have very little control over,” she explained.
Dayon Woodford ’14 covered these issues in her Senior Individualized Project.
“My SIP is focusing on giving voices to people who are currently experiencing these issues,” she said.
She also advised that even though the movie is set in different regions, it is very important to note that hunger is prevalent in Kalamazoo.
“If you just walk out of the bubble you will see that it exists,” she added.
Hepp explained that half the kids in Kalamazoo live in poverty and behind each statistic is a real story of an individual.
U.S. Congress recently passed a bill to cut 40 billion dollars in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance. According to Hepp, the bill would cut 3.8 million people from food assistance in 2014 and nearly 3 million every year. She advised students to write letters to their representatives to lobby the aversion of the bill. She said, “Letters are actually very effective, they count these and then multiply them for the impact of constituents who did not write.” Students can visit the Center for Civic Engagement to drop off their letters or to ask for further guidance on how to write one.