Project Peanut Butter: It takes ‘$4.25 to feed a child for a week’
By: Bri Heaney
The charity focus of the year at St. Louis Community College – Meramec is Project Peanut Butter. Project Peanut Butter is a charity that is focused on putting an end to the leading cause of child mortality in the world: malnutrition.
The scope of the program is international with primary outlets in the areas most deeply affected, which include Ghana, Sierra Leon, and Malawi.
With roots that can be traced back to our city, St. Louis is at the center of action in the USA when it comes to this charity, with Dr. Mark Manary spearheading the project here.
Manary’s wife also works with him here in St. Louis along with Martin Hinstad, Desso Shuckero, and Maleeha Ahmad.
“Mark Manary is a doctor from Washington university who does some groundbreaking work on formulating therapeutic food for everyone from starving children to pregnant and nursing women,” Meramec student Kyle Luzynski said.
Manary worked to develop a practical formula for treating malnutrition. One that would be cost effective and potent.
“Mark Manary developed the most effective treatment for malnutrition ever conceived,” Luzynski said. “Whereas conventional hospitalization would save 25-40% of children from severe malnutrition, his treatment, which relies on a therapeutic peanut butter paste, has the power to cure 95% of children suffering from malnutrition.”
The formula made by Manary consist of vegetable oil, sugar, micro-nutrients and milk powder. The paste is consumed over a span of eight weeks and has a 95% success rate.
“To take a child who is severely malnourished, whose bones you can see, who looks utterly miserable and to transform them into a happy healthy toddler in just four to eight weeks is astounding to me,“ Luzynski said.
The span of time it takes to cure malnutrition is short and the range of children saved by this charity is massive and the results long lasting, he said.
“The transformation that this program reaps in the lives of not just a few individuals, but 750,000 individuals each year is absolutely empowering, inspiring, and amazing.” Said Luzynski, “Once you build up a vitamin store on a food that is highly nutritive you can go years without developing another issue.”
The betterments of this project are, according to the UN, the best yet to have come along in the battle against malnutrition.
“The U.N. even concluded that his [Manary] ready-to-use peanut butter paste is the most effective known treatment to severe malnutrition,” said Luzynski.
The effects of malnutrition are life lasting and often fatal.
“Project Peanut Butter reaches 750 thousand children per year, half of whom would die if untreated,” said Luzynski. Children who don’t live through malnutrition however will have long-term, lifelong effects. Project Peanut Butter helps children receive nutrients that are crucial to development.
“It protects them from life long harm,” Luzynski said. “When a child is severely malnourished, the implications will reach across the rest of their life. In many cases children who are malnourished, their brain will struggle to grow and they will be left with lifelong learning impairments as a result of severe malnutrition during a critical period of development.”
While the demand for a cure is high the demand from students who want to help is low.
“$4.25 can feed a child for an entire week, that’s less than it costs you to buy one meal in the cafeteria,” Luzynski said. The ‘ask’ is direct, it takes 25 dollars to save a child’s life forever. “We couldn’t ask for something more effective; where else can you donate 25 dollars and save someone’s life?”
The goals of Meramec contributions are ambitious.
“We hope to raise $5,000 for Project Peanut Butter saving an estimated 143 children,” Luzynski goes on to say, “We have set this high goal for ourselves to save as many children as possible.”
However, capital is not the only thing that the charity is in need of on a local level.
“We could truly use more help to plan events,” Luzynski said, encouraging more students to join the Charity Committee at Meramec.
“Imagine what it would be like to die by starvation, imagine what it’s like to watch your child die knowing there is nothing you can do,” Luzynski said. “We all have inklings of suffering, that can help us connect the dots.”
More so, Luzynski said, we can all benefit from contributing to the well being of others.
“We should not lose hope because of this overwhelming reality of suffering in the world,” Luzynski said. “Instead we should embrace it even though that means we will take on some of the pain of the world, but once we have taken on that pain of the world we can realize our most authentic selves.”