U.S. grains needed for new USAID products
KANSAS CITY, Mo.—Tons of U.S. processed grains are going into food aid for malnutritioned and starving populations around the world. That message became clear during the three days of the USDA & USAID International Food Aid and Development Conference in Kansas City. The conference wrapped up Wednesday.
Accepted as fact during the conference was that 33 percent of child mortality in the world is related to malnutrition. Additionally, an uncounted number of moderately malnutritioned children are developmentally stunted.
As the fact sheet handed out during the conference noted, USAID is in the process of initiating improvements to “the timeliness and appropriateness of food assistance.” In general terms, it was noted that the changes “include advanced and ever improving early warning systems, new and more nutritious food aid products, state of the art preposition of commodities for timeliness of delivery, significant cash programming and new programming approaches.” All this sounds like a lot of beauracratic paperwork to accomplish feeding the hungry, and attending the conference probably wouldn’t dispel that thought by the average American.
It was professed by a Bread for the World Institute spokesperson that $11.8 billion in aid is needed each year in a total of 36 countries to counter 90 percent of the world’s malnutrition.
As for meeting a portion of the goals outlined by the USAID fact sheet, Paul Alberghine, program specialist (health and nutrition), Foreign Agriculture Service (FAS) of the USDA, gave an overview and update of the Micronutrient-Fortified Food Aid Products Pilot (MFFAPP) program funded by Congress in fiscal year 2010. The $14 million funding was to develop more nutritious and micronutrient-fortified food aid products. In 2011 FAS funded six projects for $8 million out of the original funding.
FAS expects to identify new products that can be used in USDA’s Food for Progress and McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition programs. This is where U.S. grains become important and new markets are being established.
The products being developed are classified in four general categories—emergency food products, ready-to-use foods, general food basket products and fortified blended foods. The emergency food products are meal replacement products for use at the onset of emergencies until traditional humanitarian food assistance can be provided. The ready-to-use foods are the biggest variety of products from ones that are nutritionally dense, highly fortified products for treating severe acute malnutrition to supplements or complementary foods. The general food basket reference is to processes and end products with vitamin and micronutrient fortification to conventional foods such as vegetable oil or milled flours. Fortified blended foods in general are ones that can be used as a basic food, often when cooked as a type of porridge, and in most cases, these contain blends of corn, soy and dairy protein.
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