A New Kid on the “Street!”
“Elmo never has to think about where his next meal is coming from,” he says, but he does not represent the other 16 million kids that live in food insecure households (according to the USDA). Food insecurity means that these children have limited access to affordable and nutritious foods. This month, Sesame Street brought in a new Muppet to the neighborhood in order to bring attention to the one in four children in the United States who are food insecure. The seven-year-old Muppet, Lily, shocks Elmo by proclaiming that “sometimes [she goes] with her family to the food pantry” to get food, and that National School Lunch program helps her get breakfast and lunch for free everyday in school. Yes my friends, Sesame Street just went there and we, here at Earth Day, think the National School Lunch program is a great way to help solve the issue of childhood hunger by making sure kids get an adequate amount of fruits and vegetables in their daily diets.
The show addressed the issue in their typical trademark way with basic information about food drives, vegetable gardens, and volunteering along with fun dialogue and tunes sung by country singer, Brad Paisley. Four documentary vignettes comprised a good portion of the message and featured kids who have experienced hunger in their every day life. One kid, Josie, took the issue to another level when she discussed that when her father lost his job, there was no money for snacks at school. Therefore, she would “just drink some water from the fountain… until [her] stomach’s full of water.”
Sesame Street wanted to show moving examples of what it is like to experience real hunger in a kid’s everyday life, but every story like Josie’s had a happy ending. Like always, Sesame Street wanted to keep the message positive. Josie’s father gets a job, and then as a result, she now helps deliver food to other people who need it to the food pantry. The more depressing issues that pertain to hungry kids in school like fatigue, headaches, malnutrition, and the inability to focus in class were not mentioned in this episode.
Regardless, we would like to applaud Sesame Street and Lily (the Muppet) for discussing an issue that most parents do not want to or know how to talk about with their children, and for showing kids who are suffering from hunger that they are not alone.