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This edition: The Faces of America's Hungry

Episode Details

Here in the richest country on earth, 50 million of us -- one in six Americans -- go hungry. More than a third of them are children. And yet Congress can’t pass a Farm Bill because our representatives continue to fight over how many billions to slash from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, better known as food stamps. The debate is filled with tired clichés about freeloaders undeserving of government help, living large at the expense of honest, hardworking taxpayers. But a new documentary, A Place at the Table, paints a truer picture of America’s poor.

On the next Moyers & Company (check local listings), Kristi Jacobson, one of the film’s directors and producers, and Mariana Chilton, director of the Center for Hunger-Free Communities, join Bill to break these stereotypes apart and share how hunger hits hard at people from every walk of life. The story of American families facing food insecurity is as frustrating as it is heartbreaking, because the truth is as avoidable as it is tragic.

“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,” Chilton explains to Bill.

Also, on the program, journalist Greg Kaufmann -- who’s dedicated himself to the beat of poverty, food and politics -- talks about the need to meet and accurately understand Americans in poverty to truly help them. A frequent contributor for The Nation, Kaufmann claims that the poor have been stereotyped and demonized in an effort to justify huge cuts in food stamps and other programs low-income Americans rely on to survive.

“People are working and they're not getting paid enough to feed their families, pay their utilities, pay for their housing, pay for the healthcare,” Kaufmann tells Bill. “Fifty percent of the jobs in this country pay less than $34,000 a year. Twenty-five percent pay less than the poverty line for a family of four -- which is $23,000 a year. So if you're not paying people enough to pay for the basics, they're going to need help getting food.”

Guest List

Mariana Chilton Director of the Center for Hunger-Free Communities

Kristi Jacobson Film Director/Producer

Greg Kaufmann Journalist

Bill Moyers Broadcast Journalist, Host of Moyers & Company

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