News / USA

US to Supply Healthier Food to World's Hungry

Focus is on proper nutrition for the 1st 1,000 days of life

A Bangladeshi man receives food aid from USAID following Cyclone Sidr in 2007.
A Bangladeshi man receives food aid from USAID following Cyclone Sidr in 2007.

Multimedia

New recommendations call for significant changes in the nutritional content of foods the United States delivers to the world's hungry.

The United States is the world's largest supplier of food aid, reaching 55 million people in 46 countries last year, according to the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

That assistance has saved millions of lives over the years.

But Tufts University nutrition expert Patrick Webb says, "There was a bit of an impression that as long as you delivered food, that was enough. And really, what we have been arguing and demonstrating is that, no, just any old food isn't enough."

Webb says that's especially true for young children, who have greater nutritional needs in the first thousand days of life. In the new report commissioned by USAID and released Tuesday in Washington, Webb and his colleagues note that malnutrition in the period from the womb to age two can cause irreparable damage to a child's growth and brain development. That in turn affects a child's ability to learn and ultimately lowers national productivity.

The report recommends more nutritious foods for children under two and pregnant women.

USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah says the report may lead to significant changes. "We'll look specifically into the recommendations into how to get more animal protein into foods so kids don't just get calories, but get the nutrition they need for brain development and human growth."

The report also recommends improving the vitamin and mineral content of grains and oils. Those are relatively easy fixes that may reach beneficiaries this year. But adding animal protein to food targeted for young children is more difficult to accomplish.

A man receives 50 kilograms of US sorghum in southern Ethiopia during 2010.
A man receives 50 kilograms of US sorghum in southern Ethiopia during 2010.

"Unfortunately, there are manufacturing challenges that come to bear, looking at things like shelf life as well as cost," says Stephen Moody, USAID food technology expert.

But Susan Shepherd with the humanitarian group Doctors without Borders says the report does not go far enough.  

"It's not at all clear to me that this report is making a strong stand in terms of improving the quality of foods they're trying to give to children," she says.

Shepherd adds that while the report acknowledges the value of nutrient-packed ready-to-eat foods for treating malnutrition, it continues to rely on cheaper fortified grain and soybean blends that do not provide enough nutrition for young children.

And she says it does not provide aid workers with enough guidance on using ready-to-eat foods.

"If I read this report as somebody in the field, it's all over the map," she says. "I don't know what I should be using when. And as long as they keep focusing on how much it costs, how much it costs, how much it costs, then these kids are never going to get what they need."

But USAID officials say they are already seeing benefits in programs that are currently following the report's recommendations. They say within a year other programs will start to see changes that will fight malnutrition more effectively among some of the world's most vulnerable people.

You May Like

US Border Patrol Union Accused of Taking Sides on Immigration

Report alleges agents leaking info to immigration opponents, appearing at their private events; Center for Immigration Studies director defends agents' actions More

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Reporting from Somali capital for past decade, Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal has been working at one of Mogadishu's leading radio stations covering parliament More

Video Rights Monitor: Hate Groups' Use of Internet to Inflame, Recruit Growing

Wiesenthal Center's Abraham Cooper says extremists have become skilled at celebrating violence, ideology on Web More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Interneti
X
Mike O'Sullivan
June 30, 2015 8:20 PM
Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.

VOA Blogs