Kofi Annan, former Secretary-General of the United Nations, proclaimed, “In a world of plenty, ending hunger is within our grasp . . . It is time to act. It is time to do what we have long promised to do – eliminate hunger from the face of the earth.”
Edesia, a nonprofit organization based in Providence, Rhode Island, is playing a vital role in fulfilling Annan’s challenge. Since its founding in February 2009, Edesia has made major strides in producing ready-to-use foods (RUFs), conducting nutrition research, and supporting local RUF producers.
Edesia began production of Plumpy’nut®, Supplementary’Plumpy®, Plumpy’doz®, and Nutributter® (see “Plumpy Products with a New Purpose!”) in March 2010. Their state-of-the art factory has the capacity to package 150 packets of Plumpy’nut® in 60 seconds and produce enough ready-to-use foods to meet the nutritional needs of over 450,000 malnourished children. By producing and distributing Supplementary’Plumpy®, Plumpy’doz®, and Nutributter®, Edesia focuses on prevention as a long-term solution to the global nutrition crisis.
Additionally, Edesia engages in collaborative research with universities, institutes, partners, and distributors around the world to create “sustainable global nutrition solutions.” Marie Wisecup, Edesia’s Communications Manager, stated that Edesia is focused on “building partnerships and reaching out to organizations that want to reach the same goal – making these [ready-to-use foods] available to more people more effectively.”
As the sole producer of Plumpy products in the United States, founder Navyn Salem explained that the location, “brings a supply source closer to the needs in our hemisphere and allows us to conduct research and development with United States universities and stakeholders. We also have access to grants and funding in America.”
Edesia is the only U.S. based member of the PlumpyField Network, a network founded by the developer and leading producer of Plumpy’nut® – Nutriset in France. The PlumpyField Network strives to achieve “nutritional autonomy” by supporting and promoting local RUF producers in the developing world. Wisecup further explained the term saying, “We want governments to meet their own country’s nutritional needs by producing locally and creating distribution systems to meet the needs of their most vulnerable populations. As a member of the PlumpyField Network, this is something we at Edesia work towards and strongly believe in.”
Edesia has been busy filling orders for the World Food Programme and USAID as well as a number of smaller faith-based and community-based organizations. In the first three months of production Edesia has produced enough to treat 100,000 children for 2-5 months. The products are already on their way to many different countries – from Haiti to Guatemala and Burkina Faso to Honduras. “We are thrilled to be able to make an impact like this so quickly,” said Salem.
Edesia is already using their facility to serve as a means of education as well. Wisecup stated, “Our factory gives us the opportunity to build awareness on hunger and malnutrition. There is a way to solve the problem and students, especially, can have an impact. We use our factory as a tool to show that students can get involved, have a voice and make a difference in children’s lives all over the world. There is no one better suited to speak on behalf of children— than children.”