Merck partners with sesame workshop on national program to encourage healthy eating habits in families with a limited budget


Merck, a global healthcare leader working to help the world to be well, and Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame Street, are partnering to develop Food for Thought: Eating Well on a Budget, a bilingual education outreach program aimed at helping low-income families make food choices that are affordable, nutritional and set the foundation for lifelong healthy habits.

The initiative will offer support and creative resources for families with children between the ages of 2 and 8 to cope with food insecurity, defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as 'households where there is a lack of access to enough food to fully meet basic needs at all times due to lack of financial resources.' There is growing concern that food insecurity could contribute to childhood obesity rates, which over the past three decades have tripled to nearly one in three children in America being overweight or obese.

Food for Thought: Eating Well on a Budget is a bilingual (English and Spanish) multimedia outreach kit featuring an original DVD starring the Sesame Street Muppets with healthy eating messages for the entire family. Also included in the kit are a short documentary of families, child-friendly recipes, a children's story and a parent/caregiver guide that provides information about healthful eating and ways to make nutritional and economical food choices for the entire family. In addition, Sesame Workshop, in collaboration with Merck, will conduct community and volunteer train-the-trainer sessions, community outreach screenings and webinars directed to the child care community.

'Merck is proud to partner with Sesame Workshop on this program as we know children cannot lead a healthy life if their basic needs are not fulfilled,' said Ellen Lambert, executive vice president of The Merck Company Foundation. 'This effort is part of our Merck Rx to Fight Hunger initiative that supports the development, implementation and sharing of new approaches for treating and preventing hunger and malnutrition in children.'

'Promoting strategies for simple solutions to healthy eating will help low income parents give their kids a fighting chance to succeed in school... And in life,' said Gary E. Knell, president and chief executive officer of Sesame Workshop. 'We are excited to work with The Merck Company Foundation to continue creating resources and educating families on healthy habits.'

This new Sesame Workshop initiative will be based on its successful Healthy Habits for Life initiative, which has made a difference in helping parents, caregivers, educators, health care professionals and policymakers understand the need to begin setting a foundation for healthy habits early in children's lives. United HealthCare provided initial funding and partnership support for Food for Thought.

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 140 countries, and other acclaimed shows to help bridge the literacy gap including The Electric Company and Pinky Dinky Doo. 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 at

About Merck
Today's Merck is a global healthcare leader working to help the world be well. Merck is known as MSD outside the United States and Canada. Through our prescription medicines, vaccines, biologic therapies, and consumer care and animal health products, we work with customers and operate in more than 140 countries to deliver innovative health solutions. We also demonstrate our commitment to increasing access to healthcare through far-reaching policies, programs and partnerships. Merck. Be well. For more information, visit

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