Growing Hope Against Hunger is a one-hour Sesame Street prime time special raising awareness of the widespread issue of hunger in the United States. The special is part of Sesame Workshop's Food for Thought initiative and features Brad Paisley and Kimberly Williams Paisley along with the Muppets of Sesame Street. It aired on local PBS stations on October 9, 2011. The special was also released on The iTunes Store through the "Sesame in Communities" podcast in 2013.
“Growing Hope Against Hunger speaks to both children and adults with a story that celebrates the importance of community as everyone works to help one another — including Brad Paisley, Kimberly Williams Paisley, and their Sesame Street friends, Rosita, Grover, and Bert. Our Sesame friends are collecting foods at a food drive and a community garden and meet Lily, a new character whose family has an ongoing struggle with hunger. Together, Lily’s family finds strength in helping others who are experiencing similar circumstances. Through animations and songs, the Sesame characters understand what Lily is going through and how their simple actions, such as planting a seed, can make a world of difference. Finally, documentary stories present children’s perspectives on food insecurity and illuminate the impact hunger has on families.
No matter what the viewers’ experiences with food are, the special reassures children that they are not alone: There are people who care and can help. Emphasizing the importance of togetherness, the special motivates all children to help others, whether through friendship or by giving through family activities. Adults, by hearing children’s voices and stories, will find age-appropriate ways to talk to children about sensitive issues related to food. The special also aims to reduce stigma related to food insecurity, empowering adults to serve as resources to others and build hope in their communities.”
A completely Spanish version of the special, titled Todos juntos contra el hambre, was produced alongside the original English version.
Luis stars as the sole human host of the special. As a result, the majority of the special is re-filmed, nearly shot-for-shot, but changing all the signs (save for the street sign) to Spanish. The special is half the length of the original, eliminating the majority of documentary films. The songs are all re-orchestrated to give them a more Latin sound.
Although the Muppets are all voiced by their Plaza Sésamo voice actors, they retain their American names.
The special originally aired on V-me on November 25, 2011 and was later released on iTunes through the "Sesame en las Comunidades" podcast.
- Brad Paisley as himself
- Kimberly Williams Paisley as herself
- Chris Knowings as Chris
- Linet Adorno as Linet
- Fidel Vicioso as Dad
- Kevin Clash as Elmo
- Leslie Carrara-Rudolph as Lily
- Carmen Osbahr as Rosita
- Eric Jacobson as Super Grover and Bert
- Additional Muppet performers: Matt Vogel, John Kennedy, Paul McGinnis
- Directed by Kevin Clash
- Documentary Film Maker: Cynthia Wade
- Executive Producer: Carol-Lynn Parente
- Supervising Producer: Melissa Dino
- Coordinating Producer: April Coleman
- Producers: Kevin Clash, Benjamin Lehmann
- Writer: Christine Ferraro
- Associate Director: Ken Diego
- Set Designer: Bob Phillips
- Production Stage Manager: Mindy Fila
- Music Director: Bill Sherman
- Music Director - Arrangements: Joe Fiedler
- Music Director - Studio: Paul Rudolph
- Lyrics By: Christine Ferraro
- "I Can Help" & "Garden Song" Composed By Adam Schlesinger
- Additional Music By Bill Sherman, Joe Fiedler and Loren Toolajian
- Jim Henson's Workshop: Jason Weber, Michelle Hickey, Lara MacLean, Jason Seck
- Outreach and Educational Practices, Senior Vice President: Jeanette Betancourt, Ed.D.
- Education, Research and Outreach, Executive Vice President: Lewis Bernstein, Ph.D.
- Production Assistants: Alberto Aguao, Geri Cole, Andrew Moriarty, Rachel Smith
- Cameras: Rob Balton, Frankie Biondo, Jerry Cancel
- Graphics: Pete Ortiz
- Animation By: Titmouse, Inc.
- Sound Effects: Dick Maitland, CAS