Del Monte enlists Muppets to help children eat healthfully

With recent studies indicating that fewer than 15% of elementary age school children eat the recommended servings (five or more servings) of fruits and vegetables each day, Del Monte Foods on June 21 announced its partnership with the nonprofit educational organization Sesame Workshop to launch a new line of Del Monte products. The partnership was made public during the Licensing Show in New York City; Sesame Street's Grover, along with executives from Del Monte Foods and Sesame Workshop, were on hand to make the official announcement.

"If anyone can encourage children to eat their fruits and vegetables . . . it's Elmo, along with his friends Cookie Monster and Grover," said Apu Mody, Managing Director, Del Monte Brands. "At Del Monte, we are passionate about nourishing families and enriching lives every day by offering a variety of healthful, convenient and great tasting products. We proudly support Sesame Workshop's Healthy Habits for Life initiative, a content-based program to help young children and their families lead healthier lives through improved nutrition, physical activity and hygiene."

Cookie Monster
Cookie Monster will trade cookies for corn in his new role as a promoter of fruit and vegetables for kids.
Image courtesy of SesameWorkshop.org.

The partnership, in which Sesame Street characters will appear on Del Monte products starting in September, is one way that Del Monte Foods and Sesame Workshop are joining to promote healthier eating habits among the nation's youth.

According to a 2001 study from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Center for Policy and Promotion, diets of the majority of school-aged children in the United States "need improvement." Additional studies have shown that developing healthy habits at a young age can help put children on a positive trajectory for a healthy life. Fortunately, research suggests that a window of opportunity exists during the preschool years in which children's healthy habits can be positively shaped by their early social environments. A study conducted by the Sesame Workshop in 2003 indicated that preschoolers' intake of a particular food, in this case broccoli, increased by 28 percent if the product was branded with a Sesame Street character.

"We are thrilled to team up with Del Monte Foods, a company with a long history of providing quality foods to families in the US, to offer vegetables featuring the Sesame Street characters," said Maura Regan, Vice President and General Manager of Global Licensing, Sesame Workshop. "Our Healthy Habits for Life initiative harnesses the power of Sesame Street to make health and well-being crucial to the development of young children in much the same way it has done with learning to read and write."

Del Monte vegetables featuring Sesame Street characters will be offered in specialty four-packs of each variety in grocery stores, and, eight and twelve-packs in select club retailers. The product packaging will feature one of the three Sesame Street characters — Elmo with Green Beans, Grover with Sweet Peas and Cookie Monster with Corn — along with on-pack coloring activities developed by Sesame Workshop.

"This partnership with Sesame Workshop is an ideal way to help young children and their parents develop healthy eating and exercise habits that will last a lifetime and we are thrilled to bring child-focused innovation and excitement to the vegetable category," said Mody.

To learn more about the Sesame Workshop, visit www.sesameworkshop.org. For more information on Del Monte Foods Co., go to www.delmonte.com.

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