Tag Archives: CARE Package

Plumpy’nut: A Modern-Day CARE Package

CARE Packages were sent to the hungry after World War II and this continued even during the Korean War and the early years of the Cold War struggle. In this photo, "Children of a refugee family from East Germany crowd close to get a better view of the foods in the CARE Package they received soon after they arrived in West Berlin." (photo courtesy CARE)

If you went shopping after World War II, you could walk into a store and make a life-saving purchase. Even if you were at home, you could do the same great deed simply through mail order. What was this mystery item people bought by the thousands after the war?

These were CARE packages to send to hungry people in countries lying in ruin. General Lucius Clay, commander of the American military government in Germany, made appeals to the public to send these packages. So did many others from all walks of life. This is how America reacted to the plight of those suffering overseas.

General Clay wrote, “when a CARE package arrived the consumer knew it was aid from America and that even the bitterness of war had not destroyed our compassion for suffering.”

You had several options when buying a CARE package. There were general rations which you could send to a family, or you could have these sent to an orphanage or hospital. Another option was to buy a CARE package specially designed for infants, one with baby food.

Well, today that CARE package for infants would come in the form of plumpy’nut, the miracle food recently profiled on the NBC Nightly News. This is a life-saving food for small children.

Plumpy’nut is peanut paste that comes wrapped in a small package, like many foods you find in grocery stores; except plumpy’nut is food specially designed to provide quick nutrients to severely malnourished children. It is widely used in areas struck by conflict, natural disasters, or extreme poverty. Plumpy’nut is easy to distribute because it does not require special preparation and storage.

In East Africa, where drought has caused massive food shortages, plumpy’nut is being distributed to children. It is saving their lives. Infants need proper nutrition in what is called the critical first 1,000 days. Without the nutrients, they will suffer lasting physical or mental damage.

Thousands of children have already starved to death in East Africa because of the food shortages, but those that get plumpy’nut can be saved.

Mindy Mizell of World Vision says, “One mom told me how she arrived in Puntland, Somalia with a severely malnourished toddler who wouldn’t play, stand, or smile…he took the plumpy’nut for a few weeks and was just fine! He looks great.”

A full supply of plumpy’nut is needed in East Africa to prevent more deaths.

Edesia, a Providence-based producer of plumpy’nut, has been running its factory 21 hours a day producing the life-saving food. Navyn Salem, Edesia’s director, said shipments are leaving almost every day to head to the East Africa famine zone. The plant was also fortunate to keep running through Hurricane Irene which tore through Providence and many other parts of the East Coast in August. Salem remarked, “we were very fortunate to be in a spot that was spared, phew!!”

Plumpy’nut production has to keep running at Edesia and other factories that produce the miracle food. But funding is always an issue, as aid agencies continually face this challenge. Not enough resources are committed by the international community toward fighting child hunger. The UN World Food Programme and other organizations are well short of funding to meet the demand.

Plumpy’nut is needed in many more areas of the globe: Afghanistan, Yemen, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Pakistan, and Haiti, just to name a few. All of these countries have high rates of child malnutrition, and plumpy’nut and its variations are desperately needed.

After World War II, stores like the H. & S. Pogue Company of Cincinnati even had displays of CARE packages. The Cincinnati Enquirer reported that upon Pogue’s grand opening of their display in 1947, Captain Victor Heintz made the first purchase. Heintz was a World War I veteran who served on the front lines in France. Years later, he was again coming to the aid of France in the form of a CARE package.

Another Cincinnati resident, Siegfried Deutsch, got started well before Pogue’s CARE outlet opened. Deutsch bought at least 35 CARE packages. The Enquirer said number 35 went to a poverty-stricken mother and her young daughter in Vienna, Austria, Deutsch’s homeland.

Retail stores today could offer an outlet for people to buy CARE plumpy packages for starving infants overseas. As the CARE package made such a difference saving lives, winning the peace, and rebuilding Europe after World War II, plumpy packages can do the same today.

Article first published as Plumpy’nut: A Modern-Day CARE Package on Blogcritics Magazine.

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Filed under global hunger, History

Afghanistan 10 years later- Starvation Threatens War-Torn Country

October 7th marks the 10 year anniversary of the war in Afghanistan. And as if war has not been enough, famine is descending upon Afghans.

Drought has struck 14 provinces in Afghanistan. Crops have been ruined and food supplies are almost gone. The charity Oxfam says, “Nearly three quarters of the people living in the affected areas say that they will run out of food in less than two months.”

As famine conditions have strengthened, funding for UN World Food Programme (WFP) has diminished. The UN food agency relies entirely on voluntary donations.

WFP was forced to cut school meals for hundreds of thousands of Afghan children earlier this year. In a country deeply mired in poverty, school meals are a lifeline the children desperately need.

Afghanistan has one of the highest rates of hunger and malnutrition in the entire world. If this crisis, which is often ignored by policymakers, were given more attention many of Afghanistan’s ills could be remedied. For food is the foundation of peace, education and literacy, and maybe most of all hope. Hope and Afghanistan are two words not often associated.

There is talk of donor fatigue when it comes to Afghanistan and hunger relief in general, but this is nonsense. Food aid programs make up less than one tenth of one percent of the entire federal budget.

Congress has proposed reducing funding for the Food for Peace and other hunger fighting  programs. This is such a mistake when peace in Afghanistan and other parts of the world depend on fighting hunger.

After World War II, when a CARE package center was opened in downtown Cincinnati, Ohio people flocked there to buy food for hungry people overseas. The first one to do so was a former World War I infantryman.

The first World War saw immense human suffering from both warfare and the resulting famine, and this donor had compassion and first-hand understanding of their plight. Americans from that generation did not suffer from donor fatigue, and continued feeding the hungry during the war and afterwards. Following the Second World War millions more were saved, and Europe was rebuilt from the important foundation of food.

Today, we cannot forget about Afghanistan nor let the people suffer. On this 10 year anniversary of the war in Afghanistan, let’s work to win the peace. It can start with fighting hunger.

Article first published as Afghanistan 10 years later- Starvation Threatens War-Torn Country at Blogcritics.

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Filed under advocacy, Afghanistan, Congress, drought, global hunger, malnutrition, Oxfam, School feeding, The Roadmap to End Global Hunger, World Food Programme