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Brad Paisley, Kimberly Williams Paisley and the Sesame Street Muppets help families cope with hunger

Primetime Television Special Sponsored by Walmart will Premier on October 9 at 7 pm ET/ PT on PBS Featuring New Muppet, Lily, Whose Family Faces Hunger

NEW YORK, October 4, 2011 – Growing Hope Against Hunger, a one hour primetime television special, produced by Sesame Workshop with documentary films by Academy Award winning director and filmmaker Cynthia Wade, will premiere on PBS starring Brad Paisley, Kimberly Williams Paisley and the Sesame Street Muppets airing nationwide on October 9th at 7:00 PM ET/ PT (check local listings).  The special, made possible by the  generous support of Walmart, presents families’ personal stories to raise awareness of the widespread issue of hunger in the United States, as well as strategies that have helped these families find resources and grow stronger together.  Growing Hope Against Hunger will also introduce a new Muppet named Lily whose family has an ongoing struggle with hunger.

A preview of the special was presented today at the Bethel Gospel Academy with H. Melvin Ming, Chief Operating Officer of Sesame Workshop; Andrea Thomas, Senior Vice President of Sustainability at Walmart; Vicki Escarra, President and CEO of Feeding America and Sesame Street Advisory Board Member; The Gleason family, who were featured in the special; and Sesame Street’s Grover and new Muppet Lily.  In addition, a Spanish version of the special will air on October 22nd at 1 PM ET/PT on Univision and on October 23rd at 1 PM ET/PT on Telefutura.  All materials will also be available online at sesamestreet.org/food.

“Food insecurity is a growing and difficult issue for adults to discuss, much less children,” said Brad and Kimberly Paisley. “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. We hope that it will not only provide families with the tools they need to help them cope and live the healthiest life possible, but will educate the general population about the extent of food insecurity and hunger in the United States.”

Families facing food insecurity is a growing issue in the United States.  The United States Department of Agriculture estimates that 17 million American children — nearly 1 in 4 — have limited or uncertain access to affordable and nutritious food. Of these children, more than half (9.6 million) are under the age of 6.* In response, Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit organization behind Sesame Street, with funding and partnership from United HealthCare and the Merck Foundation, launched Food for Thought: Eating Well on a Budget in Fall 2010The multimedia and bi-lingual (English and Spanish) Food for Thought resource kits, created by Sesame Workshop with the guidance from an Advisory Board, were developed to provide free resources in support of families with young children coping with uncertain or limited access to affordable and nutritious food.

With a $1.5 million grant from Walmart, Growing Hope Against Hunger extends the Food for Thought initiative through the national television broadcast of the new primetime special, the distribution of 35,000 Food for Thoughtresource kits and following the premiere of the special, 15 screenings will be hosted in select Walmart communities. In May 2010, Walmart committed $2 billion to fighting hunger in the U.S. through 2015 and at the premiere today in New York Walmart  announced today that it will be donating 8,000 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables to City Harvest,  who will distribute it directly into the hands of hungry New Yorkers through open-air, farmer’s market-style distributions in high need communities as well as deliver it to preschool and afterschool programs serving children in need throughout the five boroughs

“At Walmart, we’re committed to fighting hunger and providing healthy, affordable food to families across the U.S.,” said Andrea Thomas, Senior Vice President of Sustainability at Walmart. “We’re proud to partner with Sesame Street to help raise awareness of the issue of hunger in America and what we can do to help our neighbors.”

“Sesame Workshop has always been at the forefront of creating resources for families with young children to help address some of life’s most difficult issues.” said H. Melvin Ming, Chief Operating Officer of Sesame Workshop. “Growing Hope Against Hunger is Sesame Workshop’s contribution to all those who face the invisible crisis in the United States that is food insecurity.  We are honored to have the generous support of Walmart and to work with Brad and Kim and all our supporters and especially the families who share their very personal stories so others can learn and benefit from their journeys.”

The special highlights several strategies of empowerment, told through the eyes of children; viewers will meet a 7-year-old child who organizes a food drive for the pantry that helped her family; a community that arranges for struggling families to get unlimited access to healthy, fresh organic produce; a 10-year-old girl who collects food from high-end restaurants for an urban “food desert”; and a family that uses food assistance (WIC and SNAP) as the mother received culinary job training program — a program that ultimately changes their lives. These stories mirror some of the things shown happening on Sesame Street: food drives, a community garden, and neighbors who help neighbors.

* Nord, Mark, Margaret Andrews, and Steven Carlson. Household Food Security in the United States, 2008. ERR-83, U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Econ. Res. Serv. November 2009.

About Walmart:

Walmart is proud to support initiatives that help people live better around the globe.  In May, 2010, Walmart pledged a historic $2 billion to fight hunger in the US.  In addition, the company is committed to providing healthier, more affordable food for its customers; Walmart is working with suppliers to make healthy, fresh food less costly.  Other initiatives supported by Walmart include education, workforce development and environmental sustainability.  To learn more, visit www.walmartfoudation.org.

About Sesame Workshop:

Sesame Workshop is the nonprofit educational organization that revolutionized children’s television programming with the landmark Sesame Street. The Workshop produces local Sesame Street programs, seen in over 150 countries, and other acclaimed shows to help bridge the literacy gap including The Electric Company. Beyond television, the Workshop produces content for multiple media platforms on a wide range of issues including literacy, health and military deployment. Initiatives meet specific needs to help young children and families develop critical skills, acquire healthy habits and build emotional strength to prepare them for lifelong learning. Learn more atwww.sesameworkshop.org.

About PBS:

PBS, with its 356 member stations, offers all Americans – from every walk of life – the opportunity to explore new ideas and new worlds through television and online content. Each month, PBS reaches more than 115 million people on-air and online, inviting them to experience the worlds of science, history, nature and public affairs; hear diverse viewpoints; and take front row seats to world-class drama and performances. PBS’ broad array of programs has been consistently honored by the industry’s most coveted award competitions. Teachers of children from pre-K through 12th grade turn to PBS for digital content and services that help bring classroom lessons to life. PBS’ premier children’s TV programming and Web site, pbskids.org, are parents’ and teachers’ most trusted partners in inspiring and nurturing curiosity and love of learning in children. More information about PBS is available atwww.pbs.org, one of the leading dot-org Web sites on the Internet.

About Cynthia Wade Productions:

Cynthia Wade is an Oscar-winning documentary director. Her 2010 short documentary Born Sweet, about a Cambodian village poisoned by arsenic-laced well water, was awarded fifteen film festival prizes around the world.  Her 2008 short documentary FREEHELD won the Academy Award as well as prizes at 16 other worldwide film festivals; the documentary is now being made into a feature film starring Ellen Page.  Wade recently directed the feature-length documentary Living the Legacy: The Untold Story of Milton Hershey School, which is currently airing on the IFC and Sundance Channels.  Her work has been seen on PBS, A&E, Discovery, HBO, Cinemax, The History Channel and AMC.  She is currently directing a new film for HBO about women’s relationship to their hair when diagnosed with cancer.  Learn more at www.cynthiawade.com

 

Press Contacts: 

Pam Hacker
Sesame Workshop
212.875.6225
pam.hacker@sesame.org
Follow us on Twitter! http://twitter.com/SesameStreet
Become our Fan on Facebook! http://facebook.com/SesameStreet

Kelly Cheeseman
Walmart
479-277-9664
Kelly.cheeseman@wal-mart.com

Chad Nishimura
DKC for Sesame Workshop
212.981.5204
chad_nishimura@dkcnews.com

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