This Sunday, October 9, 2011, Sesame Street will air a special episode on Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) stations to address child hunger, an increasing problem in America today. According to the National Center for Children in Poverty, the Census data reveals that child poverty, now at 22%, is the highest it has been in almost twenty years.

"Growing Hope Against Hunger" introduces Lily, a new friend to the show's characters, who does not always get enough to eat and depends on community resources for help:

"During the special, the vibrantly colored Muppet will visit a community garden and will obtain food and volunteer at a "food pantry." Lily will also talk about her family's hunger issues with the rest of the cast."

The 30-minute program will show characters collecting food and working in a community garden. PBS and Sesame Street hope to help highlight the problem for children, giving parents support who may have to discuss the subject with their children. With people getting laid off across the country and dealing with or facing home foreclosures, children are in an especially precarious position when it comes to getting enough food to eat.

"Growing Hope Against Hunger" will include several Sesame Street favorites, including Elmo and Grover. Celebrities Brad Paisley and Kimberly Williams-Paisley will help host the program.

Sesame Street's website offers several resources for parents to talk to their children about the subject, including Food for thought: Eating Well On a Budget and Feeling Good About Food.

Watching this special episode could be a great tool to talk with your children about the nutritional needs you and your family have, or how to help other children and families in your neighborhood school and community. Volunteering, hunger, and community resources are all a part of the show.

You and your children can view the Growing Hope Against Hunger highlight reel on YouTube. Check your local listings for the times.

Parenting Squad has resources for parents and families who want to involve their children in community needs: