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With funding from The Hershey Company (NYSE: HSY), Project Peanut Butter announced today that it will make and distribute vitamin-enriched nutritional packets to impoverished children in rural Ghana.
Through Project Peanut Butter, children in rural Ghana will receive nutrients to increase their strength, foster growth and reduce their vulnerability to diseases. Childhood malnutrition levels in sub-Sahara Africa, an area that includes Ghana, are the highest in the world.
“Accelerating the production and distribution of nutrient-rich food is critical to improving the lives of at-risk rural children,” said Dr. Mark Manary, founder of Project Peanut Butter, a pediatrician and a professor of pediatrics at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Mo. “I am thrilled to partner with Hershey to bring this life-saving program to the rural villages of Ghana, where poverty causes malnourishment among children.”
For many years, Hershey has supported education and community development programs in rural Ghana, which is a leading cocoa producing country. Hershey will fund the construction of a Project Peanut Butter factory in Ghana to produce the peanut-based Ready to Use Therapeutic Foods (RUTFs). Project Peanut Butter will distribute the RUTFs to relief agencies, who provide the product to malnourished children in Ghana at no cost to them or their families.
More than a decade ago, Dr. Manary helped develop RUTFs, which are peanut-based, vitamin-enriched nutritional packets that have resulted in 95 percent of children recovering from malnourishment compared to 25 to 40 percent from traditional hospital therapies. Project Peanut Butter is now operating in Malawi, Sierra Leone, and Mali.
Ghana is one of the top 10 peanut producing countries in the world and has a robust and growing peanut farming industry. Project Peanut Butter’s local partners will source all peanuts within Ghana, providing thousands of small-holder Ghanaian peanut farmers with a new market for their crops. Hershey will be assisting the Project Peanut Butter team through the company’s expertise in sourcing and processing peanuts.