From Seed to Sachet to SAMED

October 29, 2020

Meds & Food for Kids produces Ready-to-Use Foods in our factory in Cap-Haitien, Haiti. That much is known. What may be unknown is how our all our operations are intricately interwoven. Our process starts with a simple seed – a peanut – and ends in the hands of a child at a malnutrition clinic like Société d’Aide Médical (SAMED).

A core part of MFK’s mission is purchasing peanuts from local farmers to use in our Ready-to-Use Foods (RUFs). By doing so, MFK helps a farmer support their family by providing a market for their crops. In the beginning, MFK employees would go to the local market and purchase what was available. As operations expanded over the years, so did MFK’s peanut purchases. To help meet this demand, MFK researches different seed varieties that produce higher yields and passes that information down to the farmers who participate in our farmer education programs.

However, MFK must meet strict international food safety standards. To ensure MFK purchases peanuts that are free from aflatoxin (a dangerous carcinogen produced by certain molds) MFK’s Agriculture Team teaches farmers not only how to increase yields, but also how to grow peanuts that are free of aflatoxin and suitable for MFK’s production of RUF.

Peanuts are rich in energy and contain nutrients, minerals, antioxidants and vitamins that are essential for treating and curing malnutrition. This is why our products are peanut-based. Once MFK inspects the peanuts from local farmers, they are purchased and stored in preparation for being combined with other ingredients to make nutritious products like Vita Mamba, our school snack.

The peanuts MFK purchases from local farmers undergo rigorous sorting and processing in our factory, where we employ 65 Haitians. This entails de-shelling the peanuts, hand-sorting them to remove any nuts that may be contaminated with aflatoxin, blanching the peanuts to remove the skins and finally, roasting them. After this process, they are ground into a peanut paste and combined with vitamins and minerals, milk powder, oil, and sugar to produce the RUFs MFK uses to treat malnutrition. A single sachet of the gold-standard Medika Mamba has 520 calories, 13 grams of protein, 41 grams of carbohydrates, 300 milligrams of calcium, as well as other essential vitamins and minerals.

Once the product is packaged in a sachet, it requires no preparation or refrigeration and is able to leave our factory and head for one of our many partner clinics. SAMED has been an MFK partner clinic since 2018 and our boxes of product are either delivered by the MFK nurse educator or sometimes the clinic physician picks up the requested boxes at the factory. SAMED sees malnourished children every Friday morning, and our nurse educator visits this clinic once per month where she conducts nutrition education sessions and monitors the malnutrition treatment program. Since 2018, SAMED has treated more than 700 children with Medika Mamba! Our products have a greater than 80% success rate in curing severe acute malnutrition and results are seen in as little as six weeks!

By reversing the devastating effects of malnutrition, children are given a second chance to thrive physically and cognitively and contribute to their country’s future. And, perhaps follow in their parents’ footsteps and become a farmer who provides a simple seed that can change the lives of countless people.