Can This Recipe Help End World Hunger?sam
According to statistics from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, one in eight people suffer from chronic undernourishment worldwide. Of these, nearly all live in developing countries, with the least progress made toward a reliable source of nutrition in sub-Saharan Africa, which has the highest rates of mal- and undernourishment in the world, with one out of every four people regularly unable to obtain enough food to eat. Those afflicted by hunger and malnutrition have traditionally had few choices in improving their diets, but now, thanks to the efforts of a visionary nutritionist and those dedicated to improving the lives of those living in poverty, there is a solution, and its name is “superflour.”
[ad name=”AdSense Responsive”]
Dickson and Florence, a couple living in Zambia, worried about the health of their young son, Richard. At three years old – an age when most toddlers are up and running – Richard was still unable to walk, a symptom of malnutrition. The family was introduced to a feeding program sponsored by nonprofit Outreach International that uses a mixture called “superflour” to combat malnutrition. The results were positive and immediate for young Richard. “After feeding him [superflour] four times a week for three months, to our surprise, Richard started to walk,” stated Richard’s father, Dickson.
Outreach International, a nonprofit organization focused on community development and sustainable solutions to global poverty, has spent decades working to integrate the use of superflour, a low-cost, high-protein “miracle mixture,” in impoverished communities where resources are scarce. Years of evangelism on superflour’s efficacy have led to a moment in which superflour could very well become a permanent solution to malnutrition and hunger, worldwide.
The Birth of a Revolution
The origins of superflour as a feeding solution began in the early ‘80s. Outreach International’s Chief Field Officer, Dennis Labayen met American expat Miriam Krantz while traveling through Nepal. Krantz was a veteran of the medical field and a former nutritionist before moving into work in community development with the residents of her adopted home. In her efforts to address the growing number of under- and malnourished children living in poor regions of Nepal, Krantz, along with a local partner, developed a recipe for what is now commonly referred to as “superflour,” using low-cost, widely available local ingredients to create a high-protein porridge.
Preparation is simple and flexible enough to accommodate local ingredients: Take two parts protein, such as dried beans of any variety, and one part grain, such as rice or corn, roast proteins separately to enhance digestibility, then grind or mill the grains, mix in correct proportions, add water to desired consistency, and enjoy.
Superflour justified its boastful name, meeting nearly all daily nutritional needs for everyone from adults to children as young as six months old, requiring only slight modifications to its preparation to suit recipients’ respective dietary requirements. Fifty grams (or roughly two fistfuls) of uncooked superflour supplies 366 calories and a host of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals when supplemented with green, leafy vegetables and a drop of oil.
A Thought Revolution
Rather than try to position superflour as a staple prepared or purchased by individuals, members of the Outreach field staff in DR Congo and Zambia have suggested it to those with whom they work as a community-managed feeding program. The results have been so successful, they could often legitimately be considered miraculous, as in the case of young Richard.
Richard’s father, Dickson, admitted, “Sometimes, I was reluctant to take him to the [superflour] feeding in our community, because I did not believe the porridge would do wonders for the malnourished children.” After seeing the results firsthand, Dickson realized the importance of proper nutrition and now has a viable solution for his family and community. “We were completely ignorant on how best we can feed our children and ourselves. We thought that ‘eating well’ meant eating beef, chicken, and sausage. We are so happy that, from the grains we grow locally, we can come up with a food like superflour.”
This success has not been limited to those living in Outreach-affiliated communities. The field staff have had remarkable results in their own homes after introducing superflour. Trust, a staff member of Outreach Zambia, began feeding superflour to his 4-month-old son, Emmanuel, once his wife returned to work after maternity leave. Months later, not only had Emmanuel responded well to the introduction of superflour as a nutritional supplement in his diet, his progress was such that Trust’s pediatrician suggested Emmanuel’s superflour intake be curtailed to maintain a healthy weight. At six months old, he was crawling, standing, and grasping objects, and had not experienced any serious illnesses or health issues beyond those of the average child. “It really is a superfood,” said Trust.
An Economic Revolution
Applied correctly as a meal, superflour is an incredible means for healthy development. Applied correctly as a product, its impact as a means for economic development is equally incredible. Bridget Kalumba, a resident of the Kapisha community in Zambia, found herself looking for a way to feed her seven children after her husband was forced to retire from his mining job due to medical issues. After six years trying to make ends meet working as a maid in the distant town of Chingola, Bridget decided to strike out on her own as an entrepreneur. Having participated in a month-long superflour-based trial feeding program, Bridget began selling superflour by the Kapisha roadside as a means of generating income.
She sold out of her entire stock in four days, and by the end of her first month had restocked and sold out again four times over. Revenue from her superflour sales exceeded the combined income from the days when she and her husband both worked for others. But her motivation is hardly based on her bottom line.
“I don’t see myself as a woman just selling superflour. I see myself as a doctor, saving the lives of children in Kapisha,” said Bridget. “I do not consider it [superflour] a porridge or food. To me, it is more than that: It is medicine. Ninety percent of my customers are mothers of children who are sick, under- or malnourished children who have lost their appetites, and even children who are not growing fast. I’ve seen them regaining their appetites and putting on weight. No child will refuse superflour. It is the best of the best!”
For more information on Outreach International’s efforts to establish sustainable solutions to global poverty, visit their website at: outreach-international.org
About Outreach International:
Outreach International has provided sustainable solutions to end poverty around the world for almost 40 years. We believe giving a gift without educating a community to use, repair, or nurture it is no gift at all. Projects don’t end poverty, people do. That’s why our key investment is in the people themselves— women, men, and children with stunning resilience, untapped intelligence, inherent creativity, and undeniable dignity. Together, we work to give our partners a voice to express their concerns, a means to access the materials they need, and the skills to bring themselves, and their communities, to sustainable levels of income.