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Chef Tom Colicchio and filmmakers Lori Silverbush and Kristi Jacobson sat down with SiriusXM P.O.T.U.S. host Julie Mason* for an interview that aired the fist week in March, about A Place at the Table, the new documentary that opened March 1, 2013 and examines the issue of first world hunger through the lens of three people—Rose, a second-grader in Colorado who often relies on friends and neighbors to feed her; Tremonica, a fifth-grader in Mississippi whose health is compromised by her empty calorie diet; and Barbie, a single mom in Philadelphia trying to make ends meet for her two kids— and efforts to end hunger in the richest country in the world. Silverbush and Jacobson are co-directors of the film.
* Mason is the host of The Press Pool on SiriusXM P.O.T.U.S. (ch.124). The Press Pool airs live weekdays from 12:00 – 3:00 pm ET on SiriusXM’s non-partisan channel dedicated to the “Politics of the United States.”
The complete interview with Colicchio, Silverbush and Jacobson is available on SiriusXM On Demand for subscribers listening via the SiriusXM Internet Radio App for smartphones and other mobile devices or online at siriusxm.com. Visit www.siriusxm.com/ondemand for more info on SiriusXM On Demand.
Colicchio on his mom being a school lunch lady who he watched “occasionally struggle to get food on the table,” the hunger problem continuing to grow despite efforts made/money raised by chefs and organizations and how he got involved:
SiriusXM host Julie Mason: “You became aware of this issue quite young…you mentioned that your mom was a school lunch lady, and told you when you were growing up that the food that she served was the only hot food those students would get.”
Tom Colicchio: “It was a little later on in life. My mom was retiring, or we wanted to get her to retire, when she told us that story. I grew up in Elizabeth, New Jersey and clearly, looking back on it now, I know that I’ve had friends who have struggled with hunger, and I watched my mother occasionally struggle to get food on the table.
But this issue is all over. 15 million people are affected by it and those are people who are just hungry…it affects a lot of other people too. This is something that we really have to, through the film, really show that there is a problem, show how big the problem is and show that we can fix it.
So yeah, I experienced it from a very young age, and I think that part of my involvement has been for twenty-five years as a chef I’ve been I’ve been raising a lot of money for various food organizations, and was very happy to do that. But at a certain point you have to look and say well if all these chefs are getting together and all of these organizations are doing such great work in raising money, and also the amount of food pantries that have grown in the last twenty years [keeps getting bigger], there’s got to be another problem because if we’re doing all this great work and hunger just keeps growing that’s not the issue any more. You have to figure out what the problems really are—that’s how I got involved.”
“Things…that have worked in the past….will work again”: Colicchio on raising the minimum wage and getting more money for SNAP [Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program] and the National School Lunch Program:
Tom Colicchio: “…in real terms of what can happen, I think minimum wage needs to rise and I was very happy to hear the president include that in the State of the Union address. Adequately funding SNAP [Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program], and also expanding [the National] School Lunch [Program is important]. I think the Child Nutrition [Act] authorization comes up in 2015, and we need to expand that.
In the film we show that there was a vote two years ago and the money wasn’t sufficient. The president asked for $10 billion over ten years and it got watered down to $4.5 billion, half of that coming from food stamps. These are some of the things that have worked in the past, and they will work again.”
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