James Beard award-winning celebrity chef, cookbook author, Top Chef executive producer and judge, the brains and talent behind the Craft and ‘wichcraft restaurant empire, bald salad ruiner, and lifesaving party guest Tom Colicchio has just spread his Renaissance Man wings a little farther. He is the executive producer of a A Place at the Table, a documentary that examines the issue of food insecurity.

In a San Francisco Chronicle interview, Colicchio explains how this topic of food insecurity organically came to him and his wife, filmmaker Lori Siverbush:

“My wife was mentoring a young girl and she realized that she was often hungry,” Colicchio says. “In fact, we got her into a school that we thought would better suit her, but it didn’t have a breakfast program – breakfast and lunch were the only two meals she was having all day. One day she got a call from the principal, who said, ‘She’s always looking for food. She’s always hungry.’ We didn’t realize how bad it was at home, and so that got Lori thinking, ‘Is there a film here? Is there something we can do?’ “Read more

People who are food-insecure don’t always know where their next meal is coming from. Statistically, 1 in 6 Americans don’t have access to enough food to sustain a healthy life. This includes children. Senior citizens. Working parents. In fact, 36% of clients served by the organization Feeding America have at least one working parent in the household, and toss those misconceptions aside . . . only 10% are homeless. In a 2010 Newsweek article, Claudia Kalb defines food insecurity as not having enough money to purchase a regular supply of nutritious food. She writes:

It’s the kind of hunger that is typical in the U.S. A family might get SNAP the government’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits or a wage check, but they still have to skimp on groceries, and they run out of food around the 20th or the 25th of the month.

But statistics don’t have a face. In A Place at the Table, directors Silverbush and Kristi Jacobson tell this story of a daily struggle for food through the eyes of three people:

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.

Colicchio has some big guns behind the film. Co-executive producer is Participant Media, the social action studio created by eBay founder Jeff Skoll and the studio who brought us, among other films, Fast Food Nation, Food, Inc., Charlie Wilson’s War, and Lincoln. Watch the trailer. It’s enough to make you want to do something, so you can click here for click here for Participant Media’s Take Action on hunger page. There’s a link there for you who need help finding food, too. If you don’t need it, you can pass the information along.


The soundtrack, incidentally, is amazing. The music is written and performed by T-Bone Burnett and The Civil Wars. I’m listening to it as I write this; if you love Americana, click here to buy the soundtrack on Amazon.