Saving lives by addressing severe acute malnutrition - Our Daily Green

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Saving lives by addressing severe acute malnutrition

One of the most useful treatments in cultural cases of Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) is Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Foods (RUTF). RUTF is a peanut based spread that meets specifications set forth by UNICEF to supply nutritional therapy for severely malnourished children. SAM is the number one cause of death to children under the age of 5 years, over 3.5 million annually.

Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Foods do not need water to be prepared. They are soft or crushable and can be easily eaten by children of 6 months of age up. Peanut butter paste is a popular ingredient in RUTFs along with a blend of powdered milk, sugar, vegetable oil, and nutrients. The mono-saturated fats are easy to digest and contain high levels of zinc and protein, which help the immune system. Additionally, this food does not require refrigeration or cooking.
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In March 2012, humanitarian and business person Stan Smith partnered with four other concerned friends (Brian Hunsaker, Donna Wertz, Heather Premac, and Haley Hunsaker) to pool resources and time to find a sustainable solution for production and distribution of RUTFs. They founded PB+J Foods, Inc., a non-profit organization established to combat SAM in a way that not only nourishes the children, but also helps nurture the local economy where SAM is most prevalent.

photo courtesy of Swathi_Sridharan 
licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0
PB+J's first efforts were in impoverished Republic of Malawi, a landlocked area of southeastern Africa, bordered by Zambia to the northwest, Tanzania to the northeast, and Mozambique on the east, south and west. Their success in Malawi saved nearly 1,200 lives from March 2012 to August 2013, 17 months. Encouraged by their success, they want to expand the work of PB+J to work more closely with local hospitals, farmers, and manufacturers.

In 2012, PB+J increased production and partnered with the Nkhoma Hospital to expand from 600 square feet to 1600. Based on this expansion, their projections for 2014 are promising. PB+J hopes to serve over 11,000 children, including 1,000 children at Nkhoma Hospital for no charge and increase Malawian Employment at the production facility.

In addition to physical food, PB+J Program participants will also be educated about food safety and storage, malnutrition management, hygiene and sanitation, family planning, HIV/AIDS prevention, childcare, nutrition, and agriculture, to promote broad scale healthy habits.

Because PB+J is a non-profit (EIN #46-0893794), monies raised directly benefit the children and families in the African villages. PB+J's dedication to saving and improving lives, starting with the very smallest people through adulthood is a noble cause. To learn more about supporting this non-profit, PB+J has a tax deductible program for either a recurring or one time donation to support their important work in the prevention of SAM. Follow along with their Facebook or Twitter accounts to track their progress, including recent photos of their newest production equipment.

A special thank you to PB+J for sponsoring Our Daily Green to share their message. 


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