Peanut Butter Saving Lives Of Starving Children

Posted by on March 6, 2015 in Entrepreneurship

mothers-serious-pose-copy-300x200In the Western world, many of us have a jar of peanut butter stashed away, but who would have thought that peanut butter could actually save lives?! Peanut Butter for the Hungry is an initiative from the peanut industry in the U.S. to help malnourished children in places where resources are limited. In 2005 Project Peanut Butter was born in Malawi and Sierra Leone. The Project is a not-for-profit organisation that has saved more than 800,000 children from starvation through a special peanut formula created by Dr Manary, an American paediatrician. The formula is simple mix of ground-roasted peanuts, dried milk, vitamins, minerals, vegetable oil and sugar called ‘chiponde’ by locals. The Project manufactures around 1,000 tonnes of the peanut-based formula each year, using local labour and locally grown peanuts from roughly 6,000 farmers. It is then distributed via mobile clinics throughout Malawi, Sierra Leone and Ghana, with women and their children often walking for days to access their stock of chiponde.

This therapy treats acute malnutrition and has positive long-lasting effects. This miracle peanut butter formula gives children a nutritional buffer, helping them survive illnesses like malaria, which is high risk for children in Africa. Dr Manary’s revolutionary treatment has become standard care world-wide and is endorsed by the World Health Organisation, United Nations and UNICEF as the best way to treat severe malnutrition. Peanuts have been an integral part of the West African diet for hundreds of years, brought to Africa from South America.

Strangely, as food allergies, including peanut allergies are on the rise in the West, there has never been an allergic reaction to peanuts among the African children that have been treated. According to Dr Manary, peanut allergies simply don’t exist among these children. A food allergy is caused by not being exposed to food in the first year of life, then being exposed to it later. So the way to create a lot of food allergies is to feed babies monotonous bland diets—a first world condition. In Africa, people feed children a full array of food soon after six months; in addition to that, malnourished kids don’t have the strength to have an allergic reaction to anything.

Peanuts are a good source of protein and the B vitamins, nutrients that help prevent ‘brain fatigue’, and are naturally cholesterol-free. Peanut butter contains over 30 essential nutrients and phytonutrients. One of its many advantages is its long shelf life. If held at average ambient temperature without great change in heat or humidity, peanuts and peanut butter can be safely stored for several months! This superfood is also the number one product that is most donated to food banks in the U.S.

These days, back in Africa, Dr Manary still spends much of the year in Malawi and hopes to expand this project to other African countries. His goal is to save two million children by 2015.

Photo Credit: Project Peanut Butter

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