The Cookie Monster might want to share more than a few crumbs when a new character joins the "Sesame Street" gang: a girl called Lily from a family hard-pressed to put food on the table.
The fuchsia-faced puppet will star in an hour-long primetime special on Sunday from the producers of the long-running children's television show to draw attention to hunger among American families.
"When you don't even know whether you're going to have a next meal or not, that can be pretty hard," Lily, rubbing her empty belly, was seen telling a compassionate Elmo in a preview video on Wednesday.
"Many people don't realize this is a problem that hits close to home," says country-rock star Brad Paisley on the show. "One in four children do not regularly know where their next meal is coming from, in our country."
A Spanish-language version of the special will air on October 22 and 23, the producers, Sesame Workshop, said in a statement.
Some 46.2 million Americans lived in poverty last year, or 15.1 percent of the population, the highest level in 52 years, the US Census Bureau has reported, as the United States struggles to put recession behind it.