Continued from Part I
Dorri Olds: What would you like to see taught to children with food insecurity?
Jeff Bridges: Many of these kids don’t really know what vegetables are and when you talk about obesity, your palate gets used to eating pizza pockets and you think, ‘That’s what I like.’ But, if you’re used to eating red bell peppers and carrots and a tomato right off the vine, you’d think, ‘Wow! That’s what I like.’
Kristi Jacobson: In addition to the health and cognitive effects that food insecurity creates, there’s also shame among those experiencing hunger or food insecurity. As Leslie Nichols, the teacher in the film said, those feelings of humiliation can stay with you for a lifetime. Barbie Izquierdo, the struggling single mom in the film, shows the anxiety and depression that moms can feel around this issue and the impact it has on their children.
Lori Silverbush: So much of the national dialogue is about labeling people as “takers” and accusing them of wanting handouts. That is a corrosive thing that contributes to the feelings of people who often did nothing wrong. We don’t call people “takers” when they qualify for social security or workman’s comp. Barbie wanted to work, then when she got a job she had even less money to feed her children because the food stamps were taken away.
Billy Shore: The children are voiceless. It’s not just the average American who isn’t aware of the huge scope of the problem it’s also governors.
Tom Colicchio: The average person spends under five hours a week cooking for their family yet the government calculates food stamps using the Thrifty Food Plan, which assumes people have over 13 hours to cook, and only certain foods are available under the plan. It’s almost punitive to the people who rely on food stamps to feed their families.
What is the solution?
Tom Colicchio: Participant Media has an amazing track record of building terrific social action campaigns like with “Waiting for Superman” and “Inconvenient Truth.” What you can do, can be found on their website.
Billy Shore: Tom [Colicchio] has testified on Capitol Hill. Jeff [Bridges] has met with a number of governors.
Tom Colicchio: We know how to fix hunger. It’s not a mysterious condition that we don’t know the cause of. We just had a presidential election and the topic of hunger did not come up once — other than some people labeling Obama the food stamp president, it has not been talked about.
Jeff Bridges: One of the things I was excited about in Obama’s campaign was that he said, “We’re going to end childhood hunger by 2015.” That got all of the hunger organizations excited. There were meetings and they got their ideas together and figured it out. Now we have organized an even better plan but I’m disappointed in our government for not following through on that.
Tom Colicchio: We need to make hunger a voting issue. If politicians don’t focus on this situation soon they’re going to be labeled pro-hunger. Hopefully that will force them to do something. If they feel that getting reelected is contingent on fixing this, they’ll fix it.
Jeff Bridges: This is about patriotism. If another country were treating our kids this way we’d be at war.