Although Plumpy’nut may have a funny name, its power to save millions of lives is nothing short of amazing. So what is it about this product that earned it the right to be called “Africa’s miracle food”? Plumpy’nut is a Ready- to-Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) that provides severely malnourished children with a high protein and high-energy meal. Peanut paste, vegetable oil, powdered milk, powdered sugar, and essential vitamins and minerals are combined and sealed in a foil packet to create this lifesaving formula.
Each pouch contains 500 calories. Its high caloric content, along with the high amounts of protein, zinc, and fat, results in rapid weight growth, long-term muscle development, and a stronger immune system. If eaten two times a day for two to four weeks, a child can be saved from severe malnutrition. Furthermore, Plumpy’nut has a shelf life of two years, is easy for the child to feed to his or herself, and is easy to digest. It is estimated that one month’s treatment of Plumpy’nut costs $20 per child.
In the past, powdered milk formulas had been used to treat malnutrition. Unfortunately, these formulas needed to be mixed with clean water – a rare commodity in many of the regions where malnutrition is widespread. Peanuts are already recognized as a staple food throughout Africa, so they are readily available for local producers to use and their taste is familiar and accepted.
One of the greatest benefits of Plumpy’nut is that it doesn’t require extended stays at medical facilities, which are often always filled to capacity. Prior to the invention of Plumpy’nut, mothers (or fathers), would have to travel miles to feeding stations, leaving their other children and homes unattended for long periods of time. Now, after receiving a sufficient amount of Plumpy’nut, they can return home and nurse their child back to health!
Plumpy’nut is effective, affordable, pragmatic, and the kids love the taste! After sampling it last year, I thought that it tasted like an extra sweet peanut butter. We distributed samples to Walk for Plumpy’nut participants last year and it got a range of reviews. But, judging by the look on the faces of the children eating it, it is certainly a beloved treat (for more than just the taste of course, too!).
Want to support Food for Thought’s student-run annual Walk for Plumpy’nut? Send me an e-mail at email@example.com or check out http://icfoodforthought.webs.com/