Philabundance and Sesame Street Host Community Screening Dealing with Hunger in America

Local Screening Provides Families Opportunity to Watch Muppet Special Dealing with Hunger in America

Philadelphia, Pa.—October 17, 2011 – On October 9, 2011, Sesame Street and its iconic Muppets took on the issue of hunger through a PBS primetime television special called Growing Hope Against Hunger. Philabundance, the region’s largest hunger relief organization and Sesame Workshop, held a community screening at Philabundance’s Hunger Relief Center to showcase the program and provide educational opportunities for families around the issue of hunger in America. Philabundance supporters, volunteers and clients attended the episode screening and toured Philabundance’s Hunger Relief Center on Tuesday, October 11.

The special, made possible by the generous support of Walmart, presents families’ personal stories to raise awareness of the widespread issue of hunger in the United States, as well as strategies that have helped these families find resources and grow stronger together.  Growing Hope Against Hunger also introduces a new Muppet named Lily whose family has an ongoing struggle with hunger.

“There are more people living in poverty ever before and our children are the ones hit hardest by hunger,” said Bill Clark, president and executive director of Philabundance. “Educating young children on the issue of hunger and helping them understand the concept and how they can help is essential.  Hunger will not be eliminated until we as a society say this is unacceptable.  Educating children on food insecurity and encouraging empathy around hunger is crucial.”

Families facing food insecurity is a growing issue in the Delaware Valley and in the United States.  Philadelphia has one of the highest child poverty rates in the US with 1 child out of 3 living at or below the federal poverty line. (American Community Survey, 2009) The United States Department of Agriculture estimates that 17 million American children — nearly 1 in 4 — have limited or uncertain access to affordable and nutritious food. Of these children, more than half (9.6 million) are under the age of 6.*

In response, Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit organization behind Sesame Street, with funding and partnership from United HealthCare and the Merck Foundation, launched Food for Thought: Eating Well on a Budget in Fall 2010. The multimedia and bi-lingual (English and Spanish) Food for Thought resource kits, created by Sesame Workshop with the guidance from an Advisory Board, were developed to provide free resources in support of families with young children coping with uncertain or limited access to affordable and nutritious food.

With a $1.5 million grant from Walmart, Growing Hope Against Hunger extends the Food for Thought initiative through the national television broadcast of the new primetime special, the distribution of 35,000 Food for Thought resource kits and along with Philadelphia, Walmart will host screenings in 15 other communities.  In May 2010, Walmart committed $2 billion to fighting hunger in the U.S. through 2015.

“At Walmart, we’re committed to fighting hunger and providing healthy, affordable food to families across the U.S.,” said Andrea Thomas, Senior Vice President of Sustainability at Walmart. “We’re proud to partner with Sesame Street to help raise awareness of the issue of hunger in America and what we can do to help our neighbors.”

“Sesame Workshop has always been at the forefront of creating resources for families with young children to help address some of life’s most difficult issues.” said Gary E. Knell, President and CEO of Sesame Workshop. “Growing Hope Against Hunger is Sesame Workshop’s contribution to all those who face the invisible crisis in the United States that is food insecurity.  We are honored to have the generous support of the Walmart Foundation and to work with Brad and Kim and all our supporters and especially the families who share their very personal stories so others can learn and benefit from their journeys.”

Growing Hope Against Hunger, produced by Sesame Workshop with documentary films by Academy Award winning director and filmmaker Cynthia Wade, featured Brad Paisley and Kimberly Williams Paisley.  “Food insecurity is a growing and difficult issue for adults to discuss, much less children,” said Brad and Kimberly.  “We are honored that Sesame Street, with its long history of tackling difficult issues with sensitivity, caring and warmth asked us to be a part of this important project. We hope that it will not only provide families with the tools they need to help them cope and live the healthiest life possible, but will educate the general population about the extent of food insecurity and hunger in the United States.”

* Nord, Mark, Margaret Andrews, and Steven Carlson. Household Food Security in the United States, 2008. ERR-83, U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Econ. Res. Serv. November 2009.

In addition, a Spanish version of the special will air on October 22nd at 1 PM ET/PT on Univision and on October 23rd at 1 PM ET/PT on Telefutura.  All materials will also be available online at

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