Non-Profit Organization Fights Severe Acute Malnutrition in Malawi, Africa
A five-person, non-profit organization based in Laguna Niguel, Calif., saved the lives of 1,200 children suffering from Severe Acute Malnutrition in Malawi, Africa … in just 17 months.
After five years of working alongside a number of global humanitarian organizations in Malawi, Africa, one of the world’s least developed countries, Laguna Niguel, California resident Stan Smith realized that Malawi’s nutritional challenges would persist despite digging water wells, building schools, developing livestock programs, and providing a range of other customary humanitarian efforts. He witnessed the deadly effects of Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) and was determined to find a better way to combat this devastating epidemic.
In March 2012, Stan Smith recruited his friends Brian Hunsaker, Donna Wertz, Heather Premac, and Haley Hunsaker, to create PB+J Foods, Inc., a non-profit organization designed specifically to eradicate Severe Acute Malnutrition in underdeveloped nations, like Malawi.
“To beat SAM we were going to have to do more than what typical humanitarian organizations do to feed the hungry,” Smith explains. “We had to develop a way locally manufacture Ready-to-Use-Therapeutic-Foods (RUTF), to distribute RUFTs to remote villages, to provide locals with medical treatment and health care education, and we had to create a localized, self-sustaining economy that could provide for its people on an on-going basis.”
From April 2012 to August 2013, they did exactly that … with their own money, on their own time, and with a few contributions from friends. During the seventeen month period, the five members of PB+J Foods traveled to Malawi, Africa multiple times and accomplished the following:
- Partnered with Nkhoma Hospital to create a RUTF manufacturing plant, to establish RUTF distribution sites, and to develop and operate medical and SAM treatment clinics throughout the region;
- Created an educational program to provide villagers with basic knowledge about food safety and storage, malnutrition management, hygiene and sanitation, family planning, HIV/AIDS prevention, childcare, nutrition, and agriculture;
- Facilitated the creation of an 800 member farming co-op program to grow local ‘ground nuts’, one of the most valuable nuts in the world, with Opportunity International Bank of Malawi, Afri-Nut, and World Vision which provides a cash crop for the local farmers, creating economic growth, and a steady supply of nuts for the RUTF peanut paste;
PB+J Foods has an ambitious goal for 2014. It is now working to secure financial donations to expand its infrastructure to: manufacture and serve RUTFs to 11,000 children suffering from SAM; to provide medical treatment to 1,000 children at Nkhoma Hospital and area clinics; to increase employment at the local PB+J RUTF production facility; and, to sell locally produced RUTFs on the open market to create revenues that will enable the PB+J programs in Malawi to become self-sustaining and provide RUTF products at no charge to their patients. Donations may be contributed at http://www.pbjfoods.org/animation or by calling 949-702-3187.