“Recognizing and addressing the world’s malnutrition problem as one of the major underlying impediments to eradicating global poverty and economic growth will not only save lives, it is critical to the success of the U.S. government’s ability to advance our global development objectives.” – Edesia


A dear friend of mine and fellow social good blogger, Elizabeth Atalay (documama.org) is a mother of four, living in Rhode Island and is following her passion to help mothers and children around the world through advocacy and using her voice as a blogger. Elizabeth recently began working with local Rhode Island non-profit Edesia who produces a nutritional paste called Plumpy’Nut that is used globally by the World Food Programme, USAID and UNICEF to treat severe malnutrition.

Severe malnutrition impacts millions of children around the world and is highly preventable.

  • According to UNICEF, there are at least 51 million children in our world under the age of five suffering from acute malnutrition, a condition directly responsible for at least 1 million young child deaths each year.
  • Stunting occurs in children who have access to food but for whom nutrition and hygiene are inadequate; 165 million children are stunted and will experience lifelong cognitive and physical deficits that cannot be overcome. The irreversible stunting that occurs in children as a result of prolonged under nutrition, causes children to underperform in school and have lifelong health problems, furthering perpetuating economic loss and the cycle of poverty for families, communities, and countries.
  • Malnutrition contributes to an estimated 45% of all child deaths as it makes a child more susceptible to other life threatening diseases and illnesses. Malnourished children are 9 times more likely to die from diarrhea and 6 times more likely to die from pneumonia.
  • Malnutrition is called the silent killer because often it goes unnoticed until it is too late.
  • The economic toll of malnutrition costs countries millions of dollars each year.
  • Proper nutrition in the first 1,000 days of life – from conception to two years of age – is critical to a child’s healthy development and future productivity in society.

Navyn Salem began her journey in helping malnourished children in 2007 as a stay-at-home mom of four young girls. Horrified by the growing numbers of malnourished kids around the world Navyn decided to do something about it. She began with operations in her father’s homeland, Tanzania, and worked with the government and the French company Nutriset to produce Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Foods known as RUTFs. A factory was built in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania’s capital and today they provide RUTFs to nine neighboring African countries.

In 2009 Navyn saw opportunity and expanded her operations to her home state of Rhode Island by founding Edesia. In March 2010, the first sachet of Plumpy’Nut® came off the production line. Around the same time, USAID procured Nutributter from Edesia, solidifying its commitment to the prevention of stunting in children worldwide. In 2011, Navyn handed over Power Foods to Tanzanian leadership, so that she could devote her time and focus to the US operation.

Edesia now produces four different ready-to-use foods (RUFs), as a licensee and partner of Nutriset in France, designed to address the many stages of childhood malnutrition: Plumpy’Nut®, Plumpy’Sup™, Plumpy’Doz™, and Nutributter®. These RUFs come packaged in silver foil sachets and do not need the addition of water, refrigeration, and have a shelf life of two years. These products are delivered to children for free through distribution partners such as UNICEF and the World Food Programme, who, as customers, purchase them from Edesia at cost. Geographically, Edesia has been primarily focused on Latin America and West Africa and has responded to humanitarian disasters, including the earthquake in Haiti, floods in Pakistan, the famine in the Horn of Africa, the drought in the Sahel, and recent crises in Syria and Mali. Navyn has organized Edesia to respond to these emergencies rapidly, efficiently, and cost-effectively—as the bottom line is always measured by the number of children reached. Since March 2010, Edesia has reached over 2 million malnourished children in 40 countries.

Source of above three paragraphs and more of Navyn’s story can be found here.

Photo of Edesia's founder, Navyn.

Photo of Edesia’s founder, Navyn Salem.

How does a stay-at-home mother of four young children become inspired and motivated to launch a life-saving not-for-profit organization? For Navyn, simply watching Anderson Cooper’s 12 minute coverage on 60 minutes titled “Miracle Food Saves Lives” back in 2008 was enough. To watch this Anderson Cooper’s story, click here. It is heartbreaking yet also filled with hope and promise.

Photo of video

Screen shot above on the 60 minute show that changed Navyn’s life. It is not easy to watch. As a mother I can’t even imagine not being able to feed my children. 

 Children in Burkina Faso who have benefited by Plumpy'Nut nutritional paste. Photo Credit: Edesia Photo Credit: Edesia

Children in Burkina Faso who have benefited by Plumpy’Nut nutritional paste. Photo Credit: Edesia Photo Credit: Edesia

Edesia’s Solution:

  • Malnutrition is preventable, and acute malnutrition is curable with proper and timely treatment.
  • Edesia’s products help treat and prevent various forms of malnutrition.
  • Edesia produces supplemental nutritional products including Plumpy’Nut, a nutritional ready-to-use food paste that treats severe acute malnutrition in children under the age of five. Due to increased extreme weather patterns and a rise in conflict zones around the world, Edesia has seen the demand for Plumpy’Nut rise dramatically over the past few years. Edesia is in the process of building a larger factory to expand their ability to treat malnourished children, from 600,000 a year to 2,000,000 a year. With increased production capacity Edesia will be able to respond more rapidly with higher quantities in crisis scenarios.
Children in Burkina Faso who have benefited by Plumpy'Nut nutritional paste. Photo Credit: Edesia

Children in Burkina Faso who have benefited by Plumpy’Nut nutritional paste. Photo Credit: Edesia

How Edesia will meet their goals and tackle malnutrition: 

Edesia has launched a campaign called #Nourishthefuture to raise the necessary funds to complete a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Rhode Island. At this new facility, Edesia will not only be able to significantly increase their capacity for the products that Edesia already produces to reach over 2 million malnourished children each year, but they also will build an “Edesia Innovation Center.” This Center, the first of its kind in the United States, will give Edesia the tools to create and test new products that will help us extend their reach to more malnourished populations.

Edesia needs the support of the community to help raise the final $3 million dollars that is needed to complete their new facility and reach more malnourished children who need our help to survive and thrive. Every little bit helps.

Children in Burkina Faso who have benefited by Plumpy'Nut nutritional paste. Photo Credit: Edesia

Children in Burkina Faso who have benefited by Plumpy’Nut nutritional paste. Photo Credit: Edesia

  • Edesia’s range of ready-to-use foods (RUFs) target various stages of malnutrition in children under the age of five years, including prevention of malnutrition.
  • Babies go from malnourished to health in just 7 weeks with Plumpy’Nut.
  • Malnutrition contributes to the death of approximately 2.6 million children yearly.
  • Childhood malnutrition is not always the result of hunger or too little food. Complicating factors may include: unsuitable foods given to children that do not provide sufficient protein, energy, or micronutrients; inadequate care or feeding practices; frequent infections or disease from inaccessible or poor health services; and unsafe water or insufficient sanitation systems.
  • ¼ of the world’s children will never develop to their full potential due to chronic malnutrition.

Help us to end childhood #malnutrition. #Nourishthefuture. To learn more, please visit Edesia here.  

About Edesia:

Through innovative manufacturing, Edesia aims to reduce the alarmingly high rates of childhood malnutrition in developing countries worldwide.

Founded as a non-profit in 2009, Edesia is the only U.S. producer of Plumpy’Nut, Plumpy’Sup, Plumpy’Doz, and Nutributter for large humanitarian organizations such as UNICEF, the World Food Programme (WFP), and the US Agency for International Development (USAID).

Plumpy’Nut®, Plumpy’Sup™, Plumpy’Doz™, and Nutributter® are registered trademarks of Nutriset.


    1. Yes, the video is unbelievable. If you have a time, you must watch it (link included in post) as it left me really really thinking about these children and their poor moms who can’t feed them. Heartbreaking but good there is hope.

    1. You’re welcome. I watched the Anderson Cooper video and I must say I’m still thinking about these children and their poor moms. It is heartbreaking but I’m glad there are more easy, inexpensive solutions to at least keep these kids alive.

  1. I’m a little leery of this product, to tell the truth. One thing from the outset raised a huge red flag: “…it is critical to the success of the U.S. government’s ability to advance our global development objectives.” I am strongly opposed to a U. S. government plan of global development. It ventures on Imperialism, to my way of thinking. I think of when Nestle offered free baby formula to third world mothers, creating a dependency on a US multinational corporation. I think it better for children’s nutritional dependence to be on a local food source…Mom, to be precise. That doesn’t eliminate malnutrition as a problem because many moms are undernourished. And that is a concern, again, for local development. Playing Deus ex Machina is a dangerous game, and I fear it does nothing for sustainability in the long run. That’s not to say that emergency efforts are not well-meant. I believe they are for most involved (and certainly you). But emergency efforts should begin with the understanding that they are temporary and with a concurrent long-range vision in place. Thank you for taking my comments, Nicole.

    1. Of course I’ll take your comments!!!! You bring up many excellent points. First of all, I concur that the Nestle baby formula product promotion was insane. Breastfeeding is the best for babies and this was a very bad policy decision as many mothers in these countries do not have safe water and can’t afford formula. This was insanely wrong. However, this product is very different and it is not only US-based. It is supported by Doctors without Borders and supported by all different US and international agencies to ward off malnutrition in the most severe cases. It is not a fix all but it is something to at least help in the most extreme cases until more can be done. If you research more on these types of products you will see what they are doing to save lives especially in the first few years when children are dying most due to malnutrition and are being stunted.
      In my posts a lot of times I use the NGO verbiage about benefits to our government in supporting these causes. I do so because unlike me who supports these causes with all my heart sadly lots of Americans don’t believe in supporting these types of foreign aid. In fact, many Americans believe we provide way more than we do when in fact all US Foreign aid for everything including global health is less than 1% of our budge! That is insane compared to over 20% being spent on defense. So what I am saying is that if our government and other wealthy nations do more to support ways to needless dying due to preventable diseases which leads to poverty and unstable governments and terrorism and war, then it would be a much more valuable way to spend our money than simply dropping bombs.

    2. Ready to Made Therapeutic Foods are made by many different countries around the world. For more information on the benefits and how they are saving lives here is some information from the World Health Organization’s website:
      Malnutrition is estimated to contribute to more than one third of all child deaths, although it is rarely listed as the direct cause. Lack of access to highly nutritious foods, especially in the present context of rising food prices, is a common cause of malnutrition. Poor feeding practices, such as inadequate breastfeeding, offering the wrong foods, and not ensuring that the child gets enough nutritious food, contribute to malnutrition. Infection – particularly frequent or persistent diarrhoea, pneumonia, measles and malaria – also undermines a child’s nutritional status.

      A recently developed home-based treatment for severe acute malnutrition is improving the lives of hundreds of thousands of children a year. Ready-to-use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) has revolutionized the treatment of severe malnutrition – providing foods that are safe to use at home and ensure rapid weight gain in severely malnourished children.

      The advantage of RUTF is that it is a ready-to-use paste which does not need to be mixed with water, thereby avoiding the risk of bacterial proliferation in case of accidental contamination. The product, which is based on peanut butter mixed with dried skimmed milk and vitamins and minerals, can be consumed directly by the child and provides sufficient nutrient intake for complete recovery. It can be stored for three to four months without refrigeration, even at tropical temperatures. Local production of RUTF paste is already under way in several countries including Congo, Ethiopia, Malawi and Niger.

      Following the consensus on community-based management for severe malnutrition reached in a informal consultation in 2005, WHO has worked with UNICEF on the development of a field manual on community-based management of severe malnutrition, and the IMCI guidelines have been revised to take account of the new home-based treatment.

      P.S. Thanks for asking for more information! Next time I will try to include more resources like this in the post!

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