Those concerned with addressing food, health and hunger issues in the Chattanooga community and across the country will have plenty to chew on with a full plate of special events this week, featuring film director Michael Graziano, best-selling author Michael Pollan, and local food economy experts and advocates.

The three separate but related events begin Monday night with a screening of “Lunch Line,” hosted by the Chattanooga Film Society as the final presentation of the Southern Circuit Independent Film Series.

The documentary explores the history and current impact of the National School Lunch Program, which now feeds more than 31 million children a day.


The film’s director, Michael Graziano, will also be at the screening to participate in a post-screening panel discussion with the audience and local food advocates.

According to the film’s website, the documentary illustrates how the¬†National School Lunch Program has a unique capacity for addressing child welfare, the public good and the problem of hunger, even though it has become an easy target for critics.

A food drive for the Chattanooga Food Bank will also be a part of the evening’s program, and guests are asked to bring peanut butter, canned pasta, mixed vegetables, rice and dry beans.

On Wednesday, “Food Stamped” is being shown at the offices of Gaining Ground as part of the seventh annual Back Row Film Series.

The film was made in 2010 by nutrition educator Shira Potash and her documentary filmmaker husband, Yaov Potash.

Shira Potash teaches nutrition-based cooking classes to elementary school children from low-income families. Most of the students in the classes are eligible for food stamps.

“In an attempt to walk a mile in their shoes, Shira and her documentary filmmaker husband embark on the food stamp challenge where they eat on roughly $1 per meal,” the film’s plot summary states.

The film follows the couple’s quest to answer the question, “Can you eat healthy on a food stamp budget?” and includes their discussions with members of the U.S. Congress, food justice organizations, nutrition experts and people using food stamps to buy food for themselves and their families.

The documentary won the Jury Feature Prize at the San Francisco Independent Film Festival and Best Documentary at the Lighthouse International Film Festival.

On Thursday evening, Michael Pollan, the best-selling author of “The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” will give a lecture on the industrialization of the food system and the public health implications of such a system during the George T. Hunter Lecture Series at the Tivoli Theatre.

“The Omnivore’s Dilemma” was named one of the 10 best books of 2006 by The New York Times and The Washington Post. His most recent book, “Food Rules,” was a No. 1 New York Times best-seller upon publication.

In the book, Pollan takes the reader on a journey through what he describes as the four basic ways human societies obtain food. From the current industrial system, organics, local farms and back to the hunter-gatherers, the author follows each process from the ground to the plate and some of the conflicts and broken connections along the way.

Pollan was named to the 2010 Time 100, an annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world. He was also named as one of the top 10 New Thought Leaders in 2009 by Newsweek.

Plan to attend
“Lunch Line” film screening with the director

When: Monday, April 16, 6:30 p.m.
Where: Loose Cannon, 1800 Rossville Ave.
How much: $10

“Food Stamped” film screening and potluck dinner
When: Wednesday, April 18, 6 p.m.
Where: Gaining Ground, 55 E. Main St.
How much: $10

George T. Hunter Lecture Series featuring Michael Pollan
When: Thursday, April 19, 7 p.m.
Where: Tivoli Theatre
How much: Free, seating is first-come, first-served