Originally published December 4, 2012 at 11:15 a.m., updated December 4, 2012 at 2:59 p.m.
Jennifer Tracy, Executive Director of the San Diego Hunger Coalition
Hannah Gravette, Lead organizer, The San Diego Organizing Project
Screening: The Line
Speak City Heights is a media collaborative aimed at amplifying the voices of residents in one of San Diego’s most diverse neighborhoods. (Read more)
This is the time of year when we are all asked to think of those less fortunate. From Salvation Army red kettles to holiday toy drives, we're asked to spread our good fortune to others.
Now, policymakers in Washington are being asked to do their part. San Diego groups are sponsoring the screening of a documentary that pushes for more federal help for the poor and the passage of a crucial farm bill before the end of the year.
The documentary "The Line" shares the stories of four individuals who live at or below the poverty line. One is a man who lost his job at a bank and is struggling to get by in an Illinois suburb. Another woman runs a nonprofit aimed at eliminating the trauma of poverty and poverty-related violence after seeing her sister get shot and killed in Chicago's west side.
"We wanted to make sure that there was a way that people could engage with the stories of the folks - some who look like them and some who might not look like them - that they could see the different ways that Americans are struggling every day to stay up and above that line and often continue to fall below it," said Tim King, executive producer of "The Line."
King sent a copy of the documentary to every member of Congress, who are embroiled in budget negotiations that threaten to cut funding for food stamps and Medicaid. The farm bill proposed by the House would cut 8 to 10 million families from food stamps, according to Jennifer Tracy, executive director of the San Diego Hunger Coalition. And if Congress fails to find a compromise on the bill, grocery prices could rise.
"We know that business people, they've got their lobbyists on the hill that make sure their interests are taken care of. We know that wealthy people are making their donations and that people are looking out for them," King said. "When Congress tries to reduce our deficit, the people that end up paying the price are the people who can least afford it."
The San Diego Hunger Coalition, San Diego Organizing Project and other groups are screening "The Line" at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at 4227 Fairmount Avenue in City Heights in an effort to boost advocacy for the poor, especially in San Diego.
Tracy said one in five children in the county live in poverty and about 500,000 households struggle to put food on the table.
"I'd like them to start talking to the people they care about about these issues," Tracy said. "I think it's time to elevate the dialogue about poverty above stereotypes and start talking about real people and real solutions."
For an in-depth look at how City Heights residents experience poverty, see "Tough Choices," our collaboration with Marketplace Money's Wealth and Poverty Desk.