Directors Lori Silverbush and Kristi Jacobson on A Place at the Table

If Food, Inc. freaked you out, prepare to be galvanized by A Place at the Table, another hot-button food doc being released by Participant Media and Magnolia Pictures. The film, which boasts the involvement of celebrity advocates Jeff Bridges and chef Tom Colicchio, fixes its curious eye on America’s hunger crisis, whose staggering stats add up to the distressing fact that 50 million folks in this country, many of them kids, don’t know when or how they’re getting their next meal. It’s a monster of a topic, with arms that stretch to the realms of politics, medicine, and agriculture, and the directors who stepped up to dissect it are Lori Silverbush and Kristi Jacobson, a narrative filmmaker and a documentarian, respectively. Combining their powers, the duo aim their spotlight at those suffering from food insecurity, along with a who’s-who of talking heads and, finally, our government, which the movie insists need only use the power it already has to fix these matters. In SoHo, at the Crosby Street Hotel, Silverbush and Jacobson both sat down to discuss the many problems A Place at the Table unearths, revealing a mutual passion — and, yes, hunger — for solutions in the process.

Filmmaker: There’s a wide array of human characters in this film who represent the crisis. There’s young Rosie in Colorado, single mother Barbie in Philadelphia, etc. Can you describe how you found your subjects?

Silverbush: Sure! One of the things we were most surprised to learn is that there’s hunger in every single county in the United States. The first step is really to reach out to people who are working on the front lines of the issue and trying to make it better. Every single community has had a huge sort of citizen response, whether it’s through church groups, charity groups, community groups, or faith-based groups. You’re seeing that people are jumping in to try to meet the needs of their neighbors, so we reached out in many states and typically somebody would say, “We know of a family,” or, “We know of somebody who’s working to try to de-stigmatize this issue in their community.” There was no shortage of stories and we usually had somebody trusted in the community bring us in and try to introduce us. Then we spent time establishing that trust and getting to know people and hoping that they would share what is, sadly, very humiliating for them and shameful. The shame really shouldn’t be there, but that seems to be the way people felt.

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