Tag Archives: Somalia

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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Halloween 2011: Add Plumpy’nut Treat for Starving Children Overseas

Add plumpy'nut for starving children overseas to this year's Halloween celebration (photo courtesy usa.gov)

There is something special that could be added to this year’s Halloween festivities. In addition to treats, why not have plumpy’nut added to each bag of candy?

What is plumpy’nut? Essentially it is a precious treat for children in developing countries because it can save their lives. The plumpy’nut family of ready-to-eat foods is a peanut paste used to treat dangerous levels of malnutrition in children ages 0-5.

Without proper nutrients in these early years, severe physical and mental damage can take hold.  Plumpy’nut can nourish these small children and change their lives forever.  Right now small infant children in Somalia, Pakistan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Yemen, Afghanistan and other countries are in desperate need of this food. There is extremely low funding for child feeding programs globally.

This is where Halloween comes in. If trick or treaters across America asked for some plumpy’nut with every doorbell ring, this food could be donated and save millions of lives around the world.

Since plumpy’nut is not something sold in stores, this particular treat would have to be in the form of a dollar. If you donated that dollar to the non-profit organization Edesia, which produces the life-saving food, it could then be channeled right into the production of plumpy’nut for starving children. Or you could contact the World Food Programme, Save the Children, Action Against Hunger or UNICEF who place the plumpy’nut orders with Edesia and other producers.

This plumpy’nut aspect of Halloween is something parents could set up in their neighborhoods. UNICEF has been running trick or treat campaigns since after World War II. You could also set up a plumpy’nut Halloween as part of their program.

So let this year’s Halloween have the classic themes of candy, full moon, Dracula, the Wolfman and others…but let’s welcome a new addition…..plumpy’nut. Treats for all. A Halloween for the ages.

Learn more about plumpy’nut from Rhode Island based Edesia.

Article first published as Halloween: Trick or Treat or Plumpy’nut on Blogcritics.

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Honoring Irish History by Helping Famine Victims in Somalia Today

Last month I published an interview with Kate O’Malley of Irish Americans Support Somalia. The group is dedicated to raising awareness and funds to help save lives in East Africa. Here are some updates as posted on their facebook page. The video below highlights a donation made by several organizations to Edesia, which is producing plumpy’nut for aid agencies to distribute in East Africa.

Here is the update from Irish Americans Support Somalia:

“In memory of Ray McKenna, and in the spirit of “Honoring our History by Helping Famine Victims Today”, Edesia received a total of $1250.00 in donations on October 9, 2011 from the following organizations: Rhode Island Police Officers Emerald Society, Friendly Sons of St. Patrick of Pawtucket, Providence St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee, Ancient Order of Hibernians – State Board and Newport Chapter, and the RI Irish Famine Memorial Committee. Thank you!

Did you know that our online reach now extends to supporters from 7 countries and 9 U.S. states?  And that’s just who we know about!  With your help we can build this movement which so far includes people in Australia, Japan, Haiti, Ireland, South Africa, British Columbia, and OH, NC, VA, CO, CA, FL, RI, CT, and MA in the USA.  Irish or not, we are concerned parents, newspaper editors, committed high school and college students, nationally renowned authors, university professors, business owners, musicians, community activists, historians, and most importantly we are global citizens who can make a difference.

Why now?  Why us?  Unicef reports that a child is dying every 6 minutes in Somalia and that 750,000 people are presently at risk.  We all have something to contribute. Please offer your ideas, your talents, your time, your resources, your influence, your word of mouth, your compassion. In the words of Margaret Mead, “Never doubt a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Visit Irish Americans Support of Somalia at Facebook and WordPress.

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