Sesame St & Basin PBS Put a Face To Hunger 10/13/11
It's become a national epidemic: hunger in America.
And one in four Texas children are food insecure, meaning they don't know where their next meal is coming from or if there will be one at all.
Now a popular kid's show is tackling the topic.
The fun loving character is teaching kids about a hard hitting issue.
[CG:2LINE\Daphne Dowdy\Basin PBS]
[CG:2LINE\Juanita Hill\West Texas Food Bank]
Lilly isn't your average muppet.
This new Sesame Street character is living in poverty.
"When you don't know where your next meal will come from...it can be pretty hard," Lilly explains to Elmo on the show.
"What we're hoping to do with this special is start the conversation and give an easy way for parents to talk to other kids about the trouble, maybe help children talk about kids in their class, see them in a different light," explains Daphne Dowdy with Basin PBS.
After seeing a Sesame Street Special on the topic a year ago, Basin PBS decided to do some research of their own.
"A few phone calls later I realized more than 8,000 children in the Permian Basin go without a healthy meal or anything to eat on the weekends when they're not in school," Dowdy says.
Now they've put out a local documentary to coincide with the Sesame Street premiere. Itís one way West Texans can identify with this growing problem.
"Maybe there was a divorce in the family and not enough money to feed one of the kids," Dowdy claims. "Sometimes parents are working second or 3rd jobs and can't be home to make a meal for their kids so their kids are grabbing a ding dong...it's not a healthy way to live.There are lots of reasons why for a temporary time, parents hit hard times and can't feed their kids the way they should."
And those reasons aren't always what you assume.
"Maybe they had a high paying oil job and then they lost that job. While they had the job they bought an expensive car, a home...now they can't pay those bills," she explains.
Basin PBS says the flourishing West Texas economy is often times what camouflages the struggles that some families face.
"For those who are unemployed that makes everything more expensive, that makes food more expensive."
At the West Texas Food Bank they're seeing the effects of high food prices first hand.
A room that's typically full of donations is now full of empty boxes.
"There are people out there that need food and this is where they're getting it...we want to help people,Ē says Juanita Hill with the Food Bank. "We're low on food, we need food, donors, just anyway we can get help."
And Lilly is trying to help them get that help they desperately need.
"Sesame workshop is looking to help families work together and see we can overcome this," Dowdy says.
"Turn on the television, turn on Sesame St. and listen to Lilly. See what she says. She is our voice now," says Hill.
The Sesame Street special with Brad Paisley and his wife will air tonight at 7 pm.
Itís followed by the Basin PBS documentary, ďIím not Hungry AnymoreĒ at 8 pm.
Basin PBS will also be at Medical Center Hospitals "Ladies Night" on Friday, showing the documentary and giving information.
For more information on how you can help, visit www.basinpbs.org. Or visit your local food bank.