A Place at the Tableby Representative James P. McGovern
Posted on 2013-02-26
McGOVERN. Mr. Speaker, once again, I rise to talk about the issue
of hunger in America. There are over 50 million Americans who go hungry
each year. That is about one in every six Americans who don't know
where their next meal is coming from on any given day. Mr. Speaker, in
the richest, most prosperous country in the world, that is
unconscionable. Unfortunately, too many people simply don't know that
there's a hunger problem in the United States. But that is going to
change with a new documentary called ``A Place at the Table.''
Mr. Speaker, this powerful film shows how hunger actually affects
everyday Americans. Specifically, ``A Place at the Table,'' documents
people from all walks of life--from inner-city Philadelphia to rural
Colorado--and it shows how they struggle not just to put healthy food
on their kitchen tables, but in some cases to put any food on their
tables at all.
The film doesn't just show how people struggle with food. It shows how the lack of food impacts the health of children and the capacity for kids to pay attention and learn in class.
In all candor, Mr. Speaker, I play a small part in this film, and I'm pleased the filmmakers allowed me to give my thoughts on the problem of hunger in America in ways that we can address it. But this film is not about my opinions; it's about the challenge facing the people in this movie. It's about how our country got to the place where over 50 million people--or one in six Americans--are food insecure or hungry. It's about how our legislative policies are not meeting the needs of the hungry, especially as low- and middle-income families continue to struggle during this economic recovery. It's about how parents and grandparents are trying to take care of their families, but are falling short of doing it on their own. It's about how private organizations like churches and synagogues and food banks are trying to fill the gaps, but are struggling to do so because the need is so great. Ultimately, it's about how we as a Nation have the chance to rise up and end hunger now. It's about how we can and must develop a plan to end hunger now.
Mr. Speaker, we have the means to end hunger now. We have the food to end hunger now. We have the knowledge to end hunger now. We just haven't mustered the political will to end hunger now, and we--Members of Congress--should all be ashamed that one person, let alone over 50 million, goes hungry in America.
In 1968, CBS News broadcast an hour-long program called ``Hunger in America.'' It reshaped the view of hunger in this country. The day after that show aired, then-Senator George McGovern formed the Senate Select Committee on Nutrition and worked with Senator Bob Dole and President Richard Nixon to reduce hunger in America. They almost eradicated it completely, but we've clearly regressed in the decades since.
I hope ``A Place at the Table,'' this critically important film, is the catalyst that jump-starts a new effort to end hunger now. I believe we need White House leadership on this issue, and I urge President Obama to watch this film and to follow up with a White House conference on food and nutrition in order to tackle all of the issues associated with hunger and nutrition and specifically to come up with a coordinated, unified plan to end hunger now. President Obama's leadership is critical if we're going to end hunger now.
Directors Kristi Jacobson and Lori Silverbush, along with executive producer Tom Colicchio, have made a film that tells a powerful story. It's a story of a struggle in America, but a struggle that we can overcome. It's a struggle to address a problem that we have the answer to. It's my hope that this film will spark a new movement to address both hunger and obesity and nutritional issues so that we no longer see people struggling to put food on their table.
``A Place at the Table'' is hard to watch because we all share the blame for the struggles faced by those in the film. I challenge anyone who watches it to walk away feeling unaffected. I've seen it many times already. I've been inspired by the individuals who are featured in the movie, people who struggle in poverty with great difficulty and who struggle with great dignity.
I'm also frustrated and angered by this film. It shows our failures-- our moral failures--to end the scourge of hunger. The title of the film is appropriate. We all have our place at the table, and we need to take that place in order to end hunger now.