"Sesame Street" adds child Muppet to deal with poverty, hunger issues

Luis discusses with Elmo and new character dealing with hunger, Lily, the widespread issue of hunger in the United States as part of "Sesame Streetâ Gil Vaknin/Sesame Workshop

Luis discusses with Elmo and Lily the widespread issue of hunger in the United States as part of the "Sesame Street" television special on hunger.
Gil Vaknin/Sesame Workshop

(CBS) Meet Lily, the newest addition to the "Sesame Street" team.

The 7-year-old child Muppet will be introduced and featured during a special primetime episode titled "Growing Hope Against Hunger," which is scheduled to air on Oct. 9.

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The special will feature celebrity guests Brad Paisley and his wife, Kimberly Williams Paisley, as well as the regular crew of "Sesame Street" residents, including Elmo, Bert and Grover. "Sesame Street" hopes that the episode will help address issues about poverty and hunger and open up a discussion. The show was funded in part by Walmart, which  donated a $1.5 million grant. The retail chain will be holding screenings in select communities.

Elmo helps his new friend Lily volunteer at the food drive to collect food for those in need as part of "Sesame Street's" primetime television special entitled "Growing Hope Against Hunger." Copyright 2011 Sesame Workshop
Gil Vaknin/Sesame Workshop
"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. Sesame Workshop is the non-profit educational organization behind "Sesame Street" and other related projects.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 46.2 million Americans lived in poverty last year, which is approximately 15.1 percent of the population. It was the highest level in 52 years.

"We felt it was best to have this new Muppet take this on in a positive way and a healthy way," she added.

Betancourt said that the team understands it's hard to talk about such serious issues, and this is one way to address the topic while keeping a hopeful message.

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.

So far, Lily is scheduled to appear only on the Oct. 9 episode, but that can always change in the future.

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