Frito-Lay's TrueNorth® Nut Brand and Oscar® Winner Helen Hunt Shine National Spotlight on “Inspiration Cafe”

February 10, 2009

Chicago Native’s Extraordinary Story To Air In a Commercial During the 81st Annual Academy Awards® Broadcast

PLANO, Texas -  After receiving thousands of entries, the TrueNorth® nut brand announced today that it has selected the inspirational story of Lisa Nigro, founder of Inspiration Café, to be featured in a 60-second commercial directed by Oscar®-winning actress Helen Hunt.  The compelling “True North” story will air during the 81st Annual Academy Awards® broadcast on February 22, 2009.  TrueNorth is a contemporary brand of 100% natural nut snacks that followed its passion to take a simple nut and make a more extraordinary snack. The TrueNorth brand believes everyone has a singular passion in life that can leave a legacy, empower others or simply make the world a more interesting place to live.

Lisa Nigro’s all-consuming passion – her “True North” – is serving the homeless with dignity and respect. Nigro founded the Inspiration Café in 1989 as a place in which homeless men and women could be served with dignity and respect, in a safe environment.  In the years that followed, Inspiration Café expanded its offerings to include case management, supportive services, housing and a restaurant skills training program which collectively serve more than 2,500 individuals each year.

“After reading thousands of inspiring stories, our team felt that Lisa Nigro’s story exemplifies the purpose of TrueNorth – giving life extraordinary meaning,” said Regan Ebert, vice president and general manager, warehouse direct business, Frito-Lay North America. “Lisa has followed her True North by serving others in her community through her selfless and passion-driven project, Inspiration Café. We are thrilled to have the opportunity to put the spotlight on this incredible story.”

“What began in the bed of a little red wagon filled with coffee and bagels has become what is now Inspiration Café,” explained Lisa Nigro. “I have always enjoyed connecting with people on an intimate level and realized quickly that something as simple as sharing a meal could bring a level of comfort to almost everyone.  I’m so honored TrueNorth has given us a chance to share our story with millions of people across the country.”

Since opening the doors of Inspiration Café, Lisa’s passion for cooking and serving good food with a dash of hope has captured the attention of her Uptown neighborhood, and today the organization has three cafes with nearly 75 employees and 800 volunteers.

“I’m so happy TrueNorth is telling Lisa’s story and even more excited that it will get such a tremendous audience,” adds Oscar-winner Helen Hunt. “I wanted to show, in images, the spirit of what Lisa is doing. I’m hoping others will be as inspired by her as I was.”

Hunt made her acting debut on television in 1973's "Pioneer Woman".  Since then, her career has accelerated at a rapid pace, to encompass more than 15 movies for television, numerous film appearances, three television series, five Golden Globe Awards, four Emmy’s, a Screen Actors Guild Award and the coveted Oscar among many others. This past year, Hunt made her big-screen directorial debut with the release of her passion project Then She Found Me, based on the novel by Elinor Lipman, in which she also stars, co-wrote and co-produced.

Between October 20 and December 31, 2008, consumers were invited to submit a written essay through the program’s Website – –  that described how they, or someone they know, are pursuing their “True North,” for an opportunity to have their story told in the form of a 60-second commercial aired during the 81st Annual Academy Awards® broadcast.

TrueNorth is the snack category-exclusive advertiser during this year’s Academy Awards broadcast, which entitles the brand to air commercials during the pre-show and awards show, as well as sponsorship acknowledgments during the 81st Annual Academy Awards®. The sixty-second commercial that will air during the show will feature the extraordinary story of Lisa Nigro.

This commercial will celebrate Nigro’s extraordinary story, while also kicking off the brand’s 2009 advertising campaign, which will highlight real people who have pursued their life's passions.  Following the Academy Awards airings, TrueNorth will roll out national television, print and online advertising that feature three inspiring stories discovered during the brand’s inaugural year.  They include Teddy Gross, who is empowering children with the power of a penny; Gary Greff, who is using the art of sculpture to revive his hometown of Regent, North Dakota; and Majora Carter, who is bringing nature and a green-mindset to the South Bronx.

Frito-Lay North America is the $11 billion convenient foods business unit of PepsiCo, which is headquartered in Purchase, NY.  In addition to Frito-Lay, PepsiCo business units include Pepsi-Cola, Quaker Foods, Gatorade and Tropicana.

Located in Chicago, Inspiration Corporation inspires change and enriches its community by providing people who are affected by homelessness and poverty with essential social services, employment training and housing.  In an atmosphere of dignity and respect, its goal is to create choices and enable our participants to lead happier and more fulfilling lives.  Key programs include Inspiration Cafe, The Living Room Cafe, Cafe Too culinary skills training program, and The Employment Project.  To support Inspiration Corporation, learn more, or attend its One Inspired Evening event on Friday, March 13, please visit