Hungry Muppet to appear on "Sesame Street"

LOS ANGELES Tue Oct 4, 2011 3:20pm EDT

New Muppet character Lily, whose family has an ongoing struggle with hunger, is seen in an undated handout image. REUTERS/Sesame Workshop/Handout

New Muppet character Lily, whose family has an ongoing struggle with hunger, is seen in an undated handout image.

Credit: Reuters/Sesame Workshop/Handout

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A new poverty-stricken Muppet will highlight the issue of hunger struggles on an episode of "Sesame Street", the show said in a statement on Tuesday.

Pink-faced Muppet Lily, whose family deals with food insecurity, will join Big Bird, Elmo and other favorites on a one-hour prime-time special featuring country star Brad Paisley and his wife Kimberly Williams Paisley called "Growing Hope Against Hunger," to air Oct 9.

The new Muppet will bring awareness to the ongoing hunger struggles that families face in the United States, the show said.

"Food insecurity is a growing and difficult issue for adults to discuss, much less children," the Paisleys said in a statement.

"Sesame Street" is seen in either the U.S. or local TV versions in more than 140 nations and has won multiple awards for its educational content for pre-schoolers.

The special will see children tell personal stories of their families struggling with hunger, and will also show how some families find innovative and community-driven solutions, including food drives and assistance programs.

Recent U.S. Department of Agriculture data estimates that 17 million American children have limited or uncertain access to food. And 9.6 million of these children are under the age of 6, which prompted Sesame Workshop, the non-profit organization behind "Sesame Street," to launch a "Food For Thought: Eating Well on a Budget" initiative.

(Reporting and Writing by Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by Christine Kearney)