St. Patrick’s Day is right around the corner. But before you get your green on, check out what students at the University of Rhode Island are doing.
They have already started a unique celebration for this year’s St. Patrick’s Day, one they hope will change the world. They want everyone to join them.
It’s called the MakeYourGreenCount Plumpy’Nut Challenge. The URI students have teamed up with Edesia, a Providence-based company that produces foods which fight child malnutrition. These foods include Plumpy’Nut, a peanut paste used by aid agencies worldwide to treat potentially deadly malnutrition.
Edesia has also recently produced Plumpy’Doz, a food distributed by the World Food Programme in war-torn Syria. The MakeYourGreenCount challenge asks people to donate $5 to Edesia by St. Patrick’s Day and get 10 friends to do the same. Heidi Reed, a spokesperson for Edesia, says,
Donations always have impact on our work, no matter the time of year. They help us reduce our costs so that we can reach more children with each order. We are also raising funds to build our new factory in North Kingstown, which will help us reach 2 million malnourished children each year.”
I recently interviewed the URI team of students about the MakeYourGreen Count PlumpyNut Challenge.
How did you first learn about Plumpy’Nut and what it does?
We toured Edesia, the U.S. nonprofit producer of Plumpy’Nut, after being recruited to work on the #MakeYourGreenCount social media challenge campaign, as part of a project-based learning project at the University of Rhode Island (URI). After seeing their operation, and learning that life-saving Plumpy’Nut is endorsed by humanitarian aid workers as a “miracle cure” for severe malnutrition, we came away determined to help. We’re impressed that Plumpy’Nut can save a child’s life in just 7 weeks, and that through their humanitarian partners, Edesia has a global reach of 800,000 children annually. Our public relations major focuses on business engagement and hands-on learning, and often this is combined with community service. This seemed like an ideal project and it’s timely— as Edesia prepares to break ground for a new and bigger factory in March of this year. They’re a growing social enterprise that is creating U.S. jobs, and we’re proud to support them.
What gave you the idea of a social media campaign to spread the word about Plumpy’Nut?
#MakeYourGreenCount is the brainchild of Kate O’Malley, an editor in publications and creative services at URI, who reached out to Regina Bell of the Harrington School of Communications and Media at URI to collaborate with students. Social media is a powerful and fast means of sharing information and reaching donors. Effective campaigns deliver their message in a clever way, often engaging the public about very serious issues using humor and fun. A St. Patrick’s Day theme seemed a perfect fit. The campaign name, #MakeYourGreenCount, plays off of the “getting your green on” associated with St. Patrick’s Day celebrations and the idea of making your green – your money – count for something important: helping to fight acute childhood malnutrition. And for those familiar with the history of the Great Irish Famine of 150 years ago, using an Irish theme which honors that history by helping fight famine today, also resonates.
What has the feedback been for this campaign so far? Are people first learning about child malnutrition and Plumpy’Nut from your efforts?
With #MakeYourGreenCount, we are spreading the word about Plumpy’Nut and talking about the issues surrounding global childhood malnutrition to the press, public officials, campus groups, classes, and area businesses. People are sharing the campaign on social media, helping to expand our reach organically to new audiences. So far, feedback has been terrific. People like the simplicity of the challenge and the chance to make a difference while having fun challenging friends and colleagues. Support continues to grow– from student groups and area schools to businesses including Tara’s Tipperary Tavern, the oldest Irish pub in Rhode Island, people are getting involved. We hope their example will inspire others from throughout the U.S. to do the same.
How does someone get involved with “Make Your Green Count?”
Take the challenge and share about it on social media using the hashtag #MakeYourGreenCount! Donate $5 between now and St. Patrick’s Day, March 17th, and then challenge ten friends to do the same for a total of $55 – the cost of one box of Plumpy’Nut, a full life-saving treatment. One box, one life. It’s that simple. All donations go directly to Edesia via our online fundraising page: #MakeYourGreenCount. Like and follow us on twitter and facebook , share the donation link and “get your green on” with original photos and video, or upload one from us. We make it easy, affordable, and we’re hoping to create a chain reaction of people challenging ten others who in turn challenge ten others, and so on.
Do you feel this campaign could have an impact like the Ice Bucket Challenge, a Plumpy’Nut challenge of sorts?
Forbes Magazine recently analyzed the success of the Ice Bucket Challenge and boiled it down to three main characteristics: it was big, selfless, and simple. Going “big” with the idea while keeping it selfless can help a campaign to catch on with the public, and keeping it simple can help it to catch on quickly. We believe #MakeYourGreenCount shares those characteristics and has the potential to be every bit as impactful.
#MakeYourGreenCount Plumpy’Nut Team: Sergio Suhett ‘15, Kylie Rice ‘15, David St. Amant ‘16, Kimberly DeLande ‘15
For more information visit the MakeYourGreenCount fundraiser page, facebook page or twitter.