This week "Sesame Street" unveiled a new Muppet character named Lily, a 7-year-old girl representing one of the 17 million American children that the Department of Agriculture estimates are "food insecure," meaning their access to food is limited or uncertain. Here's a clip from this "very special episode":
In the show, "Growing Hope Against Hunger," the Muppets explore ways to help Lily, her family and the millions of children that Lily represents. In addition, Elmo and the rest of the Muppet gang learn about the importance of community gardens and food drives.
The special featured several mini-documentaries about children who have experienced hunger, and country singer Brad Paisley stopped by to help tackle this important issue.
I've volunteered at food hunger organizations before, and it's admirable that "Sesame Street" is bringing attention to this issue, even if the show is targeted at the preschool set. Food insecurity is on the rise in this country - 14.6 percent of U.S. households fell into the food-insecure category at some point in 2008. But thankfully the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act, which I discussed last week, is helping to bolster child nutrition programs.
In reading about show's new Muppet I was surprised to learn that this is not the first time that "Sesame Street" has taken on social issues - previously it has dealt with issues of economic insecurity and children with parents in the military. Perhaps our politicians should be tuning into Sesame Street for a reality check...