USDA Highlights New Sesame Workshop Multimedia Outreach Initiative to Improve Child Nutrition
Release No.
USDA Office of Communications (202) 720-4623

WASHINGTON, Dec. 7, 2010 - Kevin Concannon, USDA Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services joined Sesame Workshop for their launch of a multimedia outreach initiative, "Food for Thought: Eating Well on a Budget," designed to help low-income families cope with limited access to affordable and nutritious food.

"Tackling hunger and obesity will require us to use the most innovative outreach methods and when it comes to connecting with kids across America, and Sesame Workshop has lead the way for decades," said Concannon. "Reaching these goals requires cooperation at all levels - parents, teachers, schools, community and faith-based organizations, businesses, and elected officials. Today is great example of working together for the benefit our kids."

The announcement was made today at a community event at the Capital Area Food Bank by Gary E. Knell, President and CEO of Sesame Workshop; Russell C. Petrella, President of UnitedHealthcare Community & State; and Richard T. Clark, Chairman and CEO of Merck. The Food for Thought program will provide families with an educational outreach kit, which includes an original video featuring the debut of four new Sesame Street Muppets, the "Super Foods." The video also features Elmo and friends, along with real families as they try new foods, learn about the importance of healthy snacks, and discover that sharing a meal together is a perfect opportunity to connect as a family. The 400,000 kits will be distributed through UnitedHealthcare, The Merck Foundation, and other key organizations including National WIC association, Feeding America, Head Start, Meals on Wheels. The initiative will also include two public service messages promoting trying new foods.

Through Food for Thought: Eating Well on a Budget, Sesame Workshop will extend the Healthy Habits for Life Initiative by educating families on how to nurture their children's overall development through good nutrition—even in the face of tough economic or social decisions to create positive effects that last a lifetime. The Food For Thought resource kit is designed to:

  • Assist children and families in achieving a balanced and healthy diet by educating them about nutritionally sound foods that are easier to access and that are good for child development,
  • Support families facing economic challenges to model and encourage children to eat healthy foods and be physically active,
  • Provide resources that allow both children and adults to make healthy food choices based on simple and familiar messages, including sometime and anytime foods and eating a rainbow of colors; and
  • Inform families about locally available resources and programs for them and their children to access nutritionally sound foods.

Improving child nutrition is also a focal point of the recently passed Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. This legislation authorizes USDA'S child nutrition programs, including the National School Lunch Program, which serves nearly 32 million children each day. It will allow USDA, for the first time in over 30 years, the chance to make real reforms to the school lunch and breakfast programs by improving the critical nutrition and hunger safety net for millions of children.

USDA's Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) oversees the administration of 15 nutrition assistance programs, including the child nutrition programs, that touch the lives of one in four Americans over the course of a year. These programs work in concert to form a national safety net against hunger. 

About Sesame Workshop:
Sesame Workshop is the nonprofit educational organization that changed television forever with the legendary Sesame Street. As the single largest informal educator of young children, local Sesame Street programs produced in countries as diverse as South Africa, Bangladesh and India are making a difference in over 120 nations. Using proprietary research to create engaging and enriching content, Sesame Workshop produces programs such as Dragon Tales and Pinky Dinky Doo. In addition, multimedia needs-driven initiatives provide families tools for addressing such issues as children's health, military deployment and emergency preparedness. As a nonprofit, product proceeds and philanthropic donations support Sesame Workshop's educational research and creative content for children around the world.