Sesame Street is about to get a new visitor that may want to pal up with the Cookie Monster. Introducing Lily, a 7-year-old girl who is hungry - or food insecure.
Lily will debut in a primetime special set to air Sunday, Oct. 9. The special planned by Sesame Workshop is called Growing Hope Against Hunger, and will deal with the problem of hunger in American families.
Growing Hope Against Hunger, sponsored by Walmart, will share the stories of real-life families and offer tips on what people can do to help those in need.
Lily will be depicted as an impoverished girl who is raised in a family that faces an ongoing struggle with hunger issues. The creators of the beloved show hope to teach kids about famine. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, over 16 million children in the U.S. are food insecure.
As dour as the special sounds, it's meant to be hopeful.
We thought long and hard about how do we really represent this from a child's point of view? Jeanette Betancourt, Sesame Workshop's senior vice president for outreach and educational practices, told The New York Times. We felt it was best to have this new Muppet take this on in a positive way and a healthy way.
Her colleagues at the Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit organization that produces Sesame Street, wanted to make Lily realistic but empathetic to young viewers from her style of dress, to her voice and even mannerisms, like her tendency to look down at her feet and not make contact with other characters on the show.
In her debut during the primetime special, Lily visits a community garden and encounters popular Muppets like Elmo, Rosita, Bert and Grover. Lily will also meet celebrity guest Brad Paisley and his wife Kimberly Williams.
Food insecurity is a growing and difficult issue for adults to discuss, much less children, the couple said in a statement. We are honored that 'Sesame Street', with its long history of tackling difficult issues with sensitivity, caring and warmth asked us to be a part of this important project.
Sesame Street has addressed various issues since its inception in the 1969, beginning with the time Grover learned civil disobedience from a hippie. Recent Sesame Street specials have addressed subjects like dealing with economic insecurity and having parents in the military.
The television special is part of Sesame Street's larger initiative to support families with young children who are struggling to provide nutritious food. The initiative is called Food for Thought: Eating Well on a Budget.
For now, Lily is slated for just one episode, but the Sesame Workshop has hinted that she may make a return appearance sometime in the future.