Posts Tagged ‘ food insecurity ’

A Show to Watch With the Kids

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

This Sunday, October 9, my family and I will be watching “Growing Hope Against Hunger,” a one-hour Sesame Street special designed to raise awareness about hunger in the United States and its impact on children. (Click on the screen to watch a behind-the-scenes video.) This is a topic we pay close attention to at Parents (see our story and the accompanying mini-documentary), and it’s one that the folks at Sesame Street have been addressing for quite some time. They have an initiative called Food For Thought which offers resources that provide assistance, powerful videos of families affected by hunger, and much more. This primetime special is the latest step, made possible by funding from Walmart. It’s hosted by Brad Paisley and Kimberly Williams-Paisley and features a new Muppet named Lily, who sometimes needs the services of a food pantry. The special also features four families who candidly share their own experiences in needing help getting enough to eat; they are the heart of “Growing Hope Against Hunger” and their stories will move you.

Every family with children as young as preschool-age can benefit from watching. Dr. Jeanette Betancourt, the senior vice president for outreach and educational practices at Sesame Workshop, told me that the special has two important missions: to continue to provide hope and strategies to those experiencing food insecurity, and to teach those who aren’t affected that they can play a role and help others. The goal is to jumpstart a meaningful conversation, whether it begins with “This is happening to our family, and we’re not alone” or “This is happening to families in our community, and there’s something we can do to help.” Families who don’t have enough to eat feel very isolated, she said. I especially liked what Dr. Betancourt said about the very act of talking about the problem: “It allows you to move forward.”

I’ll be honest: Hunger is not an issue I’ve ever explained to my daughters, who are 6 and 3. As a parent, I’m so glad to have a show like this to introduce the subject in a clear, compassionate way and to talk about how we can make a difference. Click here to find out when and on what channel the show will air in your area.

Okay, I have to end by showing this picture of me and a certain lovable, furry monster. I got to meet him over the summer when I visited the set of Sesame Street (career highlight!) to watch the filming of “Growing Hope Against Hunger.”

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When Children Don’t Have Enough to Eat

Thursday, June 9th, 2011

l_101737267In our July issue we have a story about hunger in the U.S. It’s a true crisis—one in four children in this country are considered food-insecure, meaning they live in a home that has difficulty providing food for all its members. We profiled two such families in our story. One is in California: The mom, Amy, works part time, and dad Otis (who has a master’s degree) has been underemployed for the past few years; they need to rely on their local food pantry to help feed their two children, ages 3 and 7. The other family is in Philadelphia: Tangela is a single mom of two children, 2 and 3, and she also helps support her teenage siblings. She works full-time, receives food stamps, and still finds herself coming up short—and, along with the rest of her family, often hungry—every month. (You can meet Tangela in this short video, which I hope you’ll watch.)

Summer is a particularly rough time for many families struggling with hunger, because children don’t get the free or low-cost breakfasts and lunches they get during the school year. Federally funded summer food programs exist, but they’re often underutilized. If you need these services or want to implement them in your community, you can ask your school or local rec center whether it’s participating in these federal programs. Or call the National Hunger Hotline at 1-866-3-HUNGRY. Feeding America, the country’s largest network of food pantries, offers more information about summer programs and provides a phone number to get more details on putting them in place. You can also offer to help organize volunteers to distribute food at parks and playgrounds

If there’s anything positive to say about this distressing topic, it’s that help is available—as are many opportunities to assist others. We’re hoping that our story will give families an opportunity to make a difference, and feel a difference.

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