POLITICS

Tom Colicchio, filmmakers give a voice to the underfed

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Yeas and Nays,Politics,Nikki Schwab

He's been shaming bad chefs season after season on Bravo's "Top Chef," but now Tom Colicchio is doing his best to tsk-tsk Washington for America's hunger problem. Colicchio, his filmmaker wife Lori Silverbush and her filmmaking partner Kristi Jacobson were in town last week showing off their upcoming documentary, "A Place at the Table," which looks at the 50 million "food insecure" folks living in this country. "None of us are food policy experts -- we are storytellers. Tom is a very passionate chef," Silverbrush said. "What we are is people who believe democracy works. I don't expect anyone to do anything until we tell them to make it a priority for us."

So besides exposing audiences to underfed characters such as Rosie, a fifth-grader who is struggling in school because she's so hungry, or Adam, a small town police chief who's not making ends meet, the filmmaking trio is launching an action network to coincide with the March 1 release of the film. That website will allow people moved by the movie to easily reach out to lawmakers.

"I don't think anybody in Congress wants to be labeled pro-hunger," Colicchio said. "And we're on the ready to label them as such," Jacobson added.

According to the filmmakers, solutions include everything from making school lunches free to beefing up the country's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. "I think, first off, raise [the] minimum wage," Colicchio said. "I think the President was right on the other night when he asked for that. I'm a small-business owner and I'm OK with that."

Colicchio is using his "Top Chef" celebrity to promote the film during the reality show's season finale later this month. And actor Jeff Bridges, who is interviewed in the movie and has his own charity, the End Hunger Network, will also assist. And then there's Michelle Obama, who Colicchio and company would like to see move beyond nutrition and fitness. "What she's doing is really fabulous, but it's a great first start," Colicchio said.

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