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CAST to screen documentary, discuss North Fork hunger

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What does hunger look like on the North Fork?

Community Action Southold Town will discuss the question at its inaugural Hunger Forum Sunday, Oct. 27, at Southold High School from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. 

The event will feature a screening of “A Place at the Table,” a 2013 documentary on hunger in America directed by Lori Silverbush and Kristi Jacobson. A panel discussion will follow with Ms. Silverbush; chef Tom Colicchio; Ellen Teller,  director of government affairs for the Food Research and Action Center; Robert Carpenter of the Long Island Farm Bureau; Dr. Fatema Meah of Peconic Pediatrics; and the Rev. Roger Joslin of Common Ground Garden.

The Suffolk Times sat down with Ms. Silverbush and CAST director Cathy Demeroto to discuss the film, stigmas tied to hunger and what it means to go to bed hungry.

The following is an excerpt from the full podcast above:

Suffolk Times: Walk me through the early stages of making this film. What was your motivation for focusing in on hunger?

Lori Silverbush: I think my interest started many, many years before we started working on the film. I had partnered with some really talented, creative activists to make a film about girls in juvenile jail. It struck me then that so many young women who were going through some really rough stuff in their lives … it felt as if every single one of them had experience with hunger. … I decided to use my ability as a storyteller and filmmaker to examine and investigate why this is the case in such a wealthy nation such as ours.

ST: The film spotlights multiple individuals in America who are struggling from food insecurity. How did you find those people and decide they were the right candidates for the film?

LS: This is where Kristi’s experience as a documentarian was super helpful. She thought it would be a really good idea to reach out to service providers … and say, “Who do you think would share their story?” I think it’s critically important, when it comes to hunger … it doesn’t look in this country in the way it looks in other countries. We do not necessarily have the child with the swollen belly and the flies buzzing around — or what we think about when we think of sub-Saharan hunger, for example. … It doesn’t look like what we think, and because of that, it’s all around us and there’s a tremendous stigma in this country to hunger and to poverty.

ST: Where does that [stigma] come from, and how can we work to resolve that? And Cathy, if you want to jump in, too, or speak to it on a more local level?

Cathy Demeroto: Well, I completely agree with Lori about the hunger and food insecurity being invisible. … That’s how it is on the North Fork. The hundreds of people we see coming into CAST every week are the families where the parents are working. … It’s the elderly woman who comes into CAST because she has to make a choice if she will buy her prescription or get produce at the store. … And we have this bounty out here of farms, and we have this breathtaking beauty, and so many people don’t realize how many people are food insecure.

ST: There’s almost this juxtaposition between farming and organic food and, on the other side of it, people who are still struggling to eat and get by.

LS: I think it’s important to point out that when the numbers of people who are in this difficult position are as high as they are in this country, the margin … is so slender. … I urge people to not think about this like, “Oh, those poor people,” but as a community, and a society, we are living with a very thin margin of comfort, which, of course, brings us to larger conversations about what it looks like to address that.

For more information on the event, go to castsoutholdtown.org/events/hungerforum2019.

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