Have you heard of Plumpy’nut?
It’s a brownish goo made from peanut paste, vegetable oil, powdered milk, powdered sugar, vitamins, and minerals known as a Ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF). A month of Plumpy’nut can bring back from the brink of death to starvation to a place of stability and health. It’s saving lives in Somalia as we speak.
One of the things that makes Plumpy’nut so highly effective is the fact that it can be administered at home with no preparation or special equipment. Whereas famine relief efforts have typically involved fortified milk, that milk had to be given at feeding stations (where patients had to reside) and was subject to the risk of contamination.
Plumpy’nut, on the other hand, can be eaten anywhere, right from the packet, and contains the nutritional equivalent of a meal at 500 calories to a mere 92 grams–a density that is a major advantage to the tiny, wizened stomachs of children who’ve endured starvation.
A child can even feed Plumpy’nut to herself:Obviously, Plumpy’nut is not a long-term solution to the world’s food problems, but it’s a darn good stopgap when you consider that, according to the UN, a child dies from hunger every five seconds–more than the combined number that die from AIDS + TB + malaria. It costs $1 to feed 1 child 1 days’ supply of Plumpy’nut.
When famines are so far away; when they seem to happen so frequently; when their causes are complicated and enmeshed in political messes, it sometimes feels easier to put them out of our minds altogether–what can we really do, anyway?
We could create the next best RUTF.
And we could pray for eyes that see and love these children as much as God does.