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Moyers: 50 Million Go Hungry in America

Debates on how to address hunger are filled with clichés about freeloaders undeserving of government help. But the documentary "A Place at the Table" paints a truer picture of America’s poor.

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KRISTI JACOBSON: Attendance.

MARIANA CHILTON: And attendance. But also for really young children where do you see it? You see it in the increased hospitalizations, showing up more to the emergency room when they don't-- with preventable diseases, or preventable exacerbation of asthma.

This, you know, if we could think about poverty during childhood as a type of a disease, if we could pay as much attention to poverty for children as we pay attention to infectious disease we might be able to do something in this country.

BILL MOYERS: I was struck again about how important a teacher like Leslie Nichols is to a child, like Rosie just as you are to the people you work with. They can make a difference, can't they?

MARIANA CHILTON: Oh, they can. I think oftentimes they're first responders because they're the ones who are seeing how well the children are doing. They're with those kids moment to moment and seeing whether they're taking in the information or not.

KRISTI JACOBSON: And they're making such-- sorry, they're making such-- a difference. And in-- in the case of Leslie Nichols, you know, she had this added-- you know, her own personal experience with hunger enabled her to recognize that it was hunger that was causing the problems in Rosie.

While other teachers might think you've got a behavioral problem or you're just-- you know, you're a difficult one. So I think it's important to also empower teachers who are in a position to really help these young kids overcome some of these obstacles by recognizing that hunger is something we need to address.

BILL MOYERS: The film makes dramatically clear the relationship between malnutrition and obesity.

MISS. CHILDREN’S HEALTH PROJECT NURSE in A Place at the Table: Step up on there. Step up on the table right there and I’ll be with you in just a second. What grade you in?

TREMONICA in A Place at the Table: Second.

MISS. CHILDREN’S HEALTH PROJECT NURSE in A Place at the Table: Second? You’re in the second grade? How old are you?

TREMONICA in A Place at the Table: Fixing to be eight.

MISS. CHILDREN’S HEALTH PROJECT NURSE in A Place at the Table: Fixing to be eight… Alright. And you’ve got asthma? Okay. Do you ever have problems with shortness of breath when you’re outside playing or anything?

TREMONICA in A Place at the Table: I have to stop playing to take a deep breath.

MISS. CHILDREN’S HEALTH PROJECT NURSE in A Place at the Table: Okay. What did you eat for breakfast this morning?

TREMONICA in A Place at the Table: I didn’t eat.

MISS. CHILDREN’S HEALTH PROJECT NURSE in A Place at the Table: You didn’t eat breakfast this morning? Okay. When you get home in the afternoon do you eat a snack? What do you eat?

TREMONICA in A Place at the Table: Chips.

MISS. CHILDREN’S HEALTH PROJECT NURSE in A Place at the Table: Chips? What else, baby? What do you drink?

TREMONICA in A Place at the Table: Pop.

MISS. CHILDREN’S HEALTH PROJECT NURSE in A Place at the Table: Pops. Okay. Do you have any other snacks besides chips you could eat?

TREMONICA in A Place at the Table: Cookies.

MISS. CHILDREN’S HEALTH PROJECT NURSE in A Place at the Table: Kisses?

TREMONICA in A Place at the Table: Cookies.

MISS. CHILDREN’S HEALTH PROJECT NURSE in A Place at the Table: Cookies. Cookies and chips, okay... Well maybe you could ask mom to start buying you some – some carrots and some celery and maybe some apples. You could slice some apples up; that’d be good, hm?

 
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