Making it ‘reel’ to end hunger

by Katelyn Fink

Special to the Reporter

“Hunger: it’s right here in the United States. It could be right next door and you would never know because people are too afraid to talk about it.” –Barbie Izquierdo

This holiday season, no one should go hungry. The Mercer Island Library is screening A Place at the Table, a documentary about hunger in America, on December 14 from 1-4 p.m. Fifty million people in the U.S. – one in four children – don’t know where their next meal is coming from. A Place at the Table, directed by Kristi Jacobson and Lori Silverbush, examines the issue of hunger in America through the lens of three people struggling with food insecurity: Barbie, a single Philadelphia mother who grew up in poverty and is trying to provide a better life for her two kids; Rosie, a Colorado fifth-grader who often has to depend on friends and neighbors to feed her and has trouble concentrating in school; and Tremonica, a Mississippi second-grader whose asthma and health issues are exacerbated by the largely empty calories her hardworking mother can afford. A discussion will follow the screening. Representatives from the Mercer Island Food Pantry and from Teen Feed will participate in the discussion and talk about their organizations.

The event is the first in a library-sponsored, teen-run program called ReelTime.

ReelTime is a documentary series that aims to shine a light on prominent social issues that are far too often overlooked. The goal of the program is to challenge the status quo, raise awareness about these issues, and inspire collective action. When it comes to social change, film can’t do it all, but it can set the stage – laying out the issues in a way that people can hear and building interest in potential solutions.

The screening is free and open to all; donations to the Mercer Island Food Pantry are encouraged. A collection bin is located in the front entrance of the library. The food bank’s website has a list of donation items that are most needed, which include cereal, soups, tuna, peanut butter and jelly, pasta and sauces, school lunch snacks, and canned fruit. These donations will provide directly for the approximately 125 Mercer Island client families who rely on the Food Pantry monthly. “Many Island residents are surprised that there are families experiencing food scarcity living on Mercer Island,” Manriquez said. “In fact, the number of the food bank’s clients, all of whom have documented Mercer Island residency, has doubled in the past five years, and approximately half of the client families have children under the age of 18 living at home,” she added.

Ultimately, A Place at the Table shows us how hunger poses serious economic, social, and cultural implications for our nation, and that it could be solved once and for all, if the American public decides — as they have in the past — that making healthy food available and affordable is in the best interest of us all. We all have something to bring to the table to end hunger in America.

Katelyn Fink is a junior at Mercer Island High School.

Members of the library’s Teen Advisory Board will be at Albertson’s between 1-4 p.m. December 8 collecting items for the MIYFS Food Pantry.


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