Sunday, January 24, 2010

A St. Louis Charity Helping Out in Haiti

In December of 2008, during a time when food price inflation and natural disaster damage to crops in Haiti had caused a months-long food crisis so severe people were eating cakes made out of mud to avoid feeling hungry, as part of a series of post on global hunger I was writing for, I interviewed Dr. Patricia Wolff, the founder of Meds and Food for Kids.

Founded in 2004, Meds and Food for Kids makes an inexpensive, easy-to-store nutritional supplement for children called Medika Mamba. Made from peanuts, which can be grown locally in Haiti, the vitamin-fortified supplement is specially designed to help young malnourished children return to health, and does not require cooking or refrigeration (a key benefit in a country with poor infrastructure and highly unreliable electricity).

Before the earthquake, Meds and Food for Kids was already working to save literally thousands of impoverished Haitian children from illness and death. The organization has also provided a livelihood to many Haitians — though the administrative offices of Meds and Food for Kids are located right here in my hometown of St. Louis, Missouri, the factory where they produce Medika Mamba is in Haiti, and they purchase Haitian-grown ingredients from Haitian farmers at fair trade prices.

After the Haitian earthquake, I contacted Dr. Wolff to find out how the Meds and Food for Kids facilities in Haiti had fared, and what the organization might need to continue delivering vital food supplies, not only to the hungry kids they were already serving before the earthquake, but also to the thousands of newly homeless and hungry families who will now need food aid.

According to Dr. Wolff, the MFK factory, located in Cap Haitien, about 80 miles away from the devastated capital of Port au Prince, survived the earthquake intact, and can begin increasing production of nutritional supplements right away — if the organization can get enough supplies. And therein lies the problem — the MFK warehouse in Port au Prince was destroyed; a shipment of six months worth of ingredients has gone missing; many of MFK's local suppliers have sustained damage to their own infrastructure, and the transportation bottleneck in the capital has made getting imported ingredients to replace the lost food expensive and difficult.

So, today I am putting a button in my sidebar that links to the Meds and Food for Kids donation page. There are many wonderful aid organizations working to help save lives in Haiti, but I encourage my readers who would like to give to the Haiti relief effort but are unsure about where to give to consider donating to MFK.

They were helping in Haiti before the earthquake, and they will continue to help in Haiti long after the news cameras leave.

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