Saint Louis University

The Story of Project Peanut Butter: Revolutionizing the Treatment of Malnourished Children Around the World

2014 Sam and Marilyn Fox Atlas Week

Monday, March 31
7:00 - 8:00 p.m.
Busch Student Center 253 D

Sponsored By: SLU Global Brigades, and Project Peanut Butter

Project Peanut Butter is a nonprofit organization that produces and distributes ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF) to severely malnourished children, primarily in sub-Saharan Africa. We currently produce the food in factories in Malawi, Sierra Leone, and Ghana.

The humble beginnings of Project Peanut Butter can be traced to the late 1990s, when St. Louis Children's Hospital pediatrician and Washington University Professor of Pediatrics, Dr. Mark Manary, traveled to Malawi and realized that the standard therapy for treating severely malnourished kids (a milk-based formula) was ineffective. Dr. Manary set about formulating a new therapeutic food-one that didn't spoil, didn't need to be cooked, and could be used by mothers in the home setting. Together with his colleague Dr. André Briend, Dr. Manary came up with the perfect blend of ingredients to treat malnourished children: a combination of peanut butter, powdered milk, vegetable oil, sugar, and vitamins and minerals. Ready to Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) was born, and recovery rates jumped from 40% to 95% in initial clinical trials in Malawi.

In 2007, the World Health Organization, the United Nations, and the World Food Programme publicly endorsed Dr. Manary's RUTF and home-based therapy as the standard of care for severely malnourished children throughout the world. Today, PPB helps feed hundreds of thousands of malnourished children. We distribute the locally produced therapeutic food at our own mobile clinics, where PPB nurses assess children for malnutrition and provide qualifying children with life-saving food at no charge. We also sell a large amount of RUTF at the cost of manufacture to multiple governments and aid organizations around the world. Speaker: A native of St. Louis, Margaret Loehnig graduated from Nerinx Hall High School in 2008 and from Truman State University in 2012, earning a Bachelor of Science in Health Science and minors in Sociology and Biology. She spent the next year working for a nonprofit organization called AIDS Interfaith Residential Services (AIRS) in Baltimore, Maryland, through the Lutheran Volunteer Corps. As a Residential Aide at AIRS, she cared for 10 individuals living with AIDS and other physical and mental disabilities.

In August 2013, Margaret deferred her admission to nursing school when she was given the opportunity to work full-time with Project Peanut Butter. She first heard about PPB when a representative came to speak at her University, and she was inspired to get more involved in eliminating malnutrition. Margaret traveled to Malawi with PPB in September 2013 and will be returning in April.

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