By Shaun Gray
In our world today it's hard to believe that families have to worry about food insecurity.
What's also hard to believe is that 17 million American children - 9.6 million children under 6 years old - have to worry about where their next meal will come from. The Sesame Street Workshop is partnering with United Healthcare and the Merck Company Foundation to do something about it. Launched this week, Food for Thought: Eating Well on a Budget, is designed to help families with children ages 2 to 8 that have uncertain or limited access to affordable and healthy food.
With help from Elmo and his Super Food friends like broccoli and cheese, Sesame Street Workshop is rolling out tools and resources to help families pick healthy meals while on a budget. The Capitol Area Food Bank opened its doors for the launching of the Sesame Street resource packet and invited the community into its facilities to hear how families living on a tight food budget can make healthy food choices. Celebrity chef Art Smith and Elmo were on hand to demonstrate how to prepare "snack happy granola" and a zesty fruit bowl. Dozens of smiling 5 and 6 year olds entered the building just as the adults were wrapping up their speeches concerning food insecurity.
Gary Knell, President of Sesame Street Workshop, Russell Petrella, President and CEO of United Healthcare and Richard Clark, Chairman and CEO of The Merck Company Foundation jointly promised to begin distribution of 100,000 resource packets and DVDs this week. Afterschool program providers will find that the packet and DVD are helpful in their work with young people as well as a resource that can be shared with the families they serve.
The other good news for families that are worried about food insecurity is that Congress recently passed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 reauthorizing the federal child nutrition programs that allow schools and afterschool programs to provide breakfast, lunch, and now supper to the 17 million American children that are in need of a hot meal.
It looks like Sesame Street, the longest street in the world, is out there fighting another battle for kids across the country and with Elmo and chef Art Smith by its side, families will be able to choose more healthy meals for their children.
Visit the Food for Thought site and check out the games, videos and resources available for free.