Film List

A Place at the Table - Filmmakers explore the issue of hunger in the United States through people struggling with food insecurity.  The film explains the serious implications hunger poses to America, but also presents hunger as a solvable problem.

Soul Food Junkies – “Filmmaker Byron Hurt looks at the past and future of soul food -- from its roots in Western Africa, to its incarnation in the American South, to its contribution to modern health crises in communities of color. Soul Food Junkies also looks at the socioeconomics of the modern American diet, and how the food industry profits from making calories cheap, but healthy options expensive and hard to find.” (source: ShopPBS.org)

Frontline: Poor Kids – Documentary examining poverty through the eyes of children.  Poor Kids follows three families dealing with the aftermath of the Great Recession highlighting the intersection of hunger and poverty.

The Garden – Award winning documentary chronicling the fight to save a community garden in South Central Los Angeles.  Years of hard work and community building are threatened when the property is sold to a developer.  Nominated for the 2009 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.

30 Days - Created by Morgan Spurlock, 30 Days is the innovative TV show that dares the viewer to take a walk in someone else’s shoes. In the season opener, Spurlock and his fiancé try to make ends meet by working minimum-wage jobs. (We recommend parental guidance for children under 13).

Hidden in America - A father of two is downsized out of his job. He struggles to support his children alone in a new city. Rated for All.  A Citadel/As Is Production in association with The End Hunger Network. (We recommend parental guidance for children under 13).  

Meaning of Food - A wonderful documentary that explores all the different ways that food creates meaning in our lives. Presented by PBS. Not Rated.

Stories for the Young Child

Brown, Marcia. Stone Soup. 1947. Based on an old French tale, this story is about three hungry soldiers who outwit the inhabitants of a village into sharing their food.

Bunting, Eve. Fly Away Home. 1991. A story about a boy and his father who live in a busy airport. Both illustrator and author focus on giving the child’s-eye view of the problem, and their skill makes this a first-rate picture book.

Cooper, Melrose. Gettin’ Through Thursday. 1998. A young boy in a family that is just making it paycheck-to-paycheck feels the richness of family love.

De Costa Nunez, Ralph. Our Wish. Published by Institute for Children and Poverty, Inc. The workbook can stand by itself as a teaching tool for small children. This book can be ordered from Homes for the Homeless (212) 529- 5252. This is a story about a family of rabbits that lose their home. They go to an animal shelter and with help they find another home in an orchard.

DiSalvo-Ryan, DyAnne. Uncle Willie and the Soup Kitchen. 1991. The story of a young boy’s introduction to work in a community kitchen. He learns from his Uncle Willie about how to help and support those living in poverty in his community.

Hesse, Karen. Spuds. 2008. Ma is working late shifts but there doesn't ever seem to be enough to eat. So one frosty night, Jack and Maybelle put little Eddie in a wagon with some empty sacks and sneak into a farmer's field to liberate the potatoes that are just lying there.

McBrier, Page and Lohstoeter, Lori. Beatrice’s Goat. Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers. Page McBrier and Lori Lohstoeter beautifully recount this true story about how one child, given the right tools, is able to lift her family out of poverty. (2% of publisher’s proceeds will be donated to Heifer Project International).

McGovern, Ann. The Lady in the Box. 1997. This is the story of two children who help and befriend a homeless woman who lives in a box on their street. It is a wonderful book to introduce children to the concepts of service and compassion. It is also a wonderful tool to address some of the myths that prevail about who is homeless and why we have homelessness in this country.

Noble, Trinka Hakes. The Orange Shoes. 2007. Delly Porter enjoys the feel of soft dirt beneath her feet as she walks to and from school, but after a classmate makes her feel ashamed of having no shoes she learns that her parents and others, too, see value in things that do not cost money.

Nunez, Ralph Costa, and Schrager, Willow. Cooper’s Tale. Published by Institute for Children and Poverty, Inc. When two fat cats take over the cheese shop, Cooper the pink mouse suddenly finds himself homeless. The friendship he develops with three homeless children changes all of their lives in ways they never expected.

Rosen, Michael J. The Greatest Table. Published by Harcourt Brace and Company. This is a book that unfolds into a 12-foot long accordion book, showing the various ways people eat together and the variety of foods people eat. This book lends itself to a number of art projects for children. This book is out of print but does have limited availability through some book stores and Amazon.com.

Fiction for the Older Child

Armstrong, William and Barkley, James. Sounder. 1995. This is the story of an African American sharecropper family in the late 19th century South.

Bromley, Anne C. The Lunch Thief. 2010. Rafael is angry that a new student is stealing lunches, but he takes time to learn what the real problem is before acting. [NOTE: This is a picture book, but reviews indicate that it is targeted at an older audience and best shared by an adult with a group of listener/readers.]

Carlson, Nancy; Williams, Garth. The Family Under the Bridge. Originally, 1958. Reissued, 1989. The story of a homeless man named Armand who lives in Paris under a bridge. He suddenly finds himself helping care for a newly homeless family.

Curtis, Christopher Paul. Bud, Not Buddy. 1999. The story of Bud Caldwell, a ten-year old boy on his own, on a journey to find his unknown father in depression era Michigan.

Fleischman, Paul. Seedfolks. 1997. Thirteen very different voices - old, young, Haitian, Hispanic, tough, haunted, and hopeful - tell one amazing story about a garden that transforms a neighborhood.

Mathis, Sharon Bell. Sidewalk Story. 1986. A young girl comes to the aide of a friend and her family being evicted from an apartment across the street. Her compassion causes others to sit up and take notice. This is a wonderful introduction to advocacy.

Neufield, John. Almost a Hero. 1995. A young boy in Santa Barbara does a community service assignment at a childcare center for homeless children.

O’Connor, Barbara. How to Steal a Dog. 2007. Living in the family car in their small North Carolina town after their father leaves them virtually penniless, Georgina and her younger brother concoct an elaborate scheme to get money by stealing a dog and then claiming the reward.

Voigt, Cynthia. Homecoming. 1981. Abandoned by their mother, four children begin to search for a home and an identity.

Wilder, Laura Ingalls. The Long Winter. 1940. During an already hard winter, a terrible storm keeps trains from getting through with food/supplies.

Fiction for Youth and Teens

Carey, Janet Lee. The Double Life of Zoe Flynn. 2004. When Zoe's family has to live in their van for months after moving from California to Oregon so her father can find work, Zoe tries to keep her sixth-grade classmates from discovering that she is homeless.

Fenner, Carol. The King of Dragons. 1998. Eleven-year-old Ian and his troubled Vietnam-vet father have been living on the streets by day and sleeping in a deserted courthouse by night. Now, though, the weather is getting cooler, food is becoming scant, and Ian’s father has disappeared.

Flake, Sharon. Money Hungry. 2001. All thirteen-year-old Raspberry can think of is making money so that she and her mother never have to worry about living on the streets again.

Greenwald, Shelia. My Fabulous New Life. 1993. An 11-year-old girl adjusts to her new neighborhood in Manhattan.

Haworth-Attard, Barbara. Theories of Relativity. 2005. When his volatile mother throws him out of the house, sixteen-year-old Dylan is forced to live on the streets and beg for money, yet through it all, he finds a way to survive.

McDonald, Janet. Chill Wind. 2002. Afraid that she will have nowhere to go when her welfare checks are stopped, nineteen-year-old high school dropout Aisha tries to figure out how she can support herself and her two young children in New York City.

Mulligan, Andy. Trash. 2010. Fourteen-year-olds Raphael and Gardo team up with a younger boy, Rat, to figure out the mysteries surrounding a bag Raphael finds during their daily life of sorting through trash in a third-world country's dump.

Shulman, Mark. Scrawl. 2010. When eighth-grade school bully Tod gets caught committing a crime on school property, he must stay after school and write in a journal under the eye of the school guidance counselor. As he writes, details of his home life emerge. Tod's house is barely habitable, and he is forced to help his mother in her job as a seamstress to make ends meet. His bullying is often less about wanting to hurt other kids than genuinely needing money.

Strasser, Todd. Can’t Get There from Here. 2004. Tired of being hungry, cold, and dirty from living on the streets of New York City with a tribe of other homeless teenagers who are dying, one by one, a girl named Maybe ponders her future and longs for someone to care about her.

White, Ruth. Little Audrey. 2008. It's 1948, and 11-year-old Audrey lives in a Virginia coal-mining camp with her father, who drinks; her mother, who is emotionally adrift; and her sisters, the “three little pigs.” A fiercely honest child’s-eye view of what it's like to be poor, hungry, and sometimes happy.

Fiction for Teens and Adults

Allison, Dorothy. Bastard Out of Carolina. 1993. A deeply engaging story of a young girl growing up in poverty during the 1950s and 60s.

Arnow, Harriet. The Dollmaker. 1954. An enormously popular novel from the late 1940s, The Dollmaker is the dramatic story of an Appalachian family’s move from the mountains of Kentucky to wartime Detroit.

Baldwin, James. Another Country. 1962. A genius of American fiction, this is one of Baldwin’s most eloquent statements about the intersection of race and class.

Ellison, Ralph. The Invisible Man. 1952. A classic novel about the manner in which we refuse to see each other and the effects this has on our lives.

Erdrich, Louise. Love Medicine. 1984. Lends insight into life on and off Native American reservations.

Grimsley, Jim. My Drowning. 1998. An evocative, uncompromising account of a hardscrabble childhood in rural North Carolina in the 1940s.

Islas, Arthur. Migrant Souls. 1990. A tale of the conflicts of a Latino family in south Texas.

Morgan, Robert. Gap Creek: A Story of a Marriage. 1999. A view of life at the turn of the century and the strength and grit required to gather, make and prepare food and the utter dependence upon nature.

Morrison, Toni. The Bluest Eye. Beloved. Jazz. 1972. Any work by Morrison speaks to the soul of our nation’s character, dealing with the issues of race, class, and gender, as well as the basic struggles of human existence.

Mukherjee, Bharati. The Middleman. 1988. A National Book Critics Circle award winner about recent immigrants’ struggle to survive in the United States.

Nonfiction for Teens and Adults

Abramsky, Sasha. Breadline USA: The Hidden Scandal of American Hunger and How to Fix It. 2009. The author combines an account of his own seven-week experiment in living on a poverty budget with moving vignettes of men and women who have fallen through society's frayed safety net and are suffering from food insecurity.

Beckmann, David and Simon, Art. Grace at the Table: Ending Hunger in God’s World. 2002. A primer on the causes of international hunger.

Berg, Joel. All You Can Eat: How Hungry Is America? 2008. Berg, executive director of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger, spotlights domestic poverty and hunger in this book that has sharp words for politicians, charities and religious denominations. The author reveals how consistently the federal government has ignored hunger in the United States.

Bloom, Jonathan. American Wasteland: How America Throws Away Nearly Half of Its Food (And What We Can Do about It). 2010. Follows the trajectory of America's food from gathering to garbage bin in this compelling and finely reported study, examining why roughly half of our harvest ends up in landfills or rots in the field. Bloom says, "Current rates of waste and population growth can't coexist much longer," and makes smart suggestions on becoming individually and collectively more food-conscious.

DeGraf, John, and others. Affluenza. 2002. Based on the PBS documentary, which is a one-hour television special that explores the high social and environmental costs of materialism and overconsumption.

Edelman, Marian Wright. Families in Peril: An Agenda for Social Change. 1987. Based on Edelman’s 1986 W.E.B. Dubois lectures, this book gives an eloquently argued case for a broad national agenda to fight childhood poverty. (Edelman is the executive director of the Children’s Defense Fund.)

Ehrenreich, Barbara. Nickeled and Dimed: On (Not) Making it in America. 2001. This book gives us a compelling look at the challenges of being a part of America’s growing working poor. Ehrenreich takes a year out of her freelance life to try making it in the low wage work force.

Kilman, Scott and Thurow, Roger. Enough: Why the World's Poorest Starve in an Age of Plenty. 2009. A powerful investigative narrative that shows how, in the past few decades, American, British, and European policies have conspired to keep Africa hungry and unable to feed itself.

Lappe, Frances Moore, Collins, Joseph and Rosset, Peter. World Hunger: Twelve Myths. 1998. Addresses the myths about hunger and poverty that keep us from adequately approaching and addressing the problem.

LeBlanc, Adrian Nicole. Random Family: Love, Drugs, Trouble, and Coming of Age in the Bronx. 2003. LeBlanc provides a profoundly intimate portrait of a teenager, her family and a community in the Bronx throughout the 90’s. It illuminates the complicated and many layered challenges of poverty. “The lives of teenagers are demonized in the same way that those of children are sentimentalized. When these lives unfold in places exhausted by poverty and its related burdens, the texture of their real experiences is obscured...” Adrian LeBlanc.

Newman, Katherine. No Shame in My Game: The Working Poor in the Inner City. 2000. Katherine Newman explores the explosion of working poverty in urban America.

Phillips, Kevin. Wealth and Democracy. 2002. A social criticism and economic history of plutocracy, excess and reform.

Roberts, Paul. The End of Food. 2008. The author of The End of Oil considers how we make, market, and consume food, which leaves too many people fat and too many others starving.

Russell, Sharman. Hunger: An Unnatural History. 2005. Analyzes the psychological and physical consequences of food deprivation and semi- starvation, discussing topics ranging from hunger strikes and religious fasts to cannibalism and anorexia nervosa.

Schlosser, Eric. Fast Food Nation. 2001. Schlosser documents the effects of fast food on America's economy, its youth culture, and allied industries, such as meatpacking, that serve this vast food production empire.

Shipler, David K. The Working Poor: Invisible in America. 2004. An analysis of the plight of the surprisingly diverse and numerous Americans who work, but still walk the official poverty line. Poverty is shown to be a “collection of difficulties that magnify one another.”

Sider, Ronald J. Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger: Moving from Affluence to Generosity. 1997. Explores Biblical perspectives on the poor and possessions, the causes of poverty, and strategies for implementing solutions to the poverty problem. Emphasizes personal lifestyle choices, building communities of caring within churches, and the need for structural change and greater social justice.

West, Cornel. Race Matters. A Collection of Valuable Essays from One of Our Principal Social Critics. 2001. West allows his readers to see race as a lens through which Americans view life.

Winne, Mark. Closing the Food Gap: Resetting the Table in the Land of Plenty. 2008. The former executive director of the Hartford Food System offers an insider's view on what it's like to feed our country's hungry citizens. Winne explains Hartford’s typical inner-city challenges and the successes he witnessed and helped to create there. The story concludes in our present food-crazed era, where the author gives voice to low-income shoppers and explores where they fit in with such foodie discussions as local vs. organic.