For more than 30 years, fortified blended foods, such as CSB (corn soy blend), have been utilized as the primary vehicle by which FFP (Food for Peace) programs have provided enhanced nutrition during emergencies. In recent years, nutritionists have debated the appropriateness of using fortified blended foods to prevent and treat malnutrition in young children 6 to 24 months old. As a result, U.S. agencies, implementing partners, and private industry have developed several new products to meet the specific nutritional needs of young children and other vulnerable groups.
In April 2011, USAID released the Food Aid Quality Review, a 2-year study conducted by Tufts University to determine if U.S. food aid products provide the nutritional profile needed for target populations and that quality control procedures are followed to assure quality delivery of that nutrition. The study recommended 35 changes to U.S. food aid products and programs to deliver improved nutrition.
NAMA worked closely with the study authors at Tuft’s. The study advocated targeting meeting the nutritional needs of children in the ‘first 1000 days’ from conception to their second birthday. These so-called ‘under 2’s’ are seen as the most critical beneficiaries, since malnutrition interferes with brain development during that time and if damage occurs during this time, it cannot be reversed. The FAQR has some very important recommendations that need to be pilot-tested and NAMA members have unique abilities to assist in that effort. At this writing, it’s uncertain if the pilot testing will go forward, but if it does, NAMA will expect to continue active involvement.
A very important recommendation by the FAQR is that the under-2 population is in need of increased animal protein and that blended food formulations must be enhanced with whey protein concentrates. While NAMA does not have a position on the desirability of that outcome, we are questioning the practicality of that formula to address the needs of the number of persons and diverse populations currently served by the blended foods globally. In fact, WFP (World Food Program) has commented to the FAQR that they still see a need for the current formula of CSB in the future for refugee and other populations where CSB is currently the best, most cost- effective intervention.
Specialized food products are generally more costly than food rations used in general distribution. Within a fixed program budget, providing more costly products would result in fewer numbers of beneficiaries served. As a result, implementing partners may be faced with a choice between the nutritional quality and quantity of the food provided.
NAMA feels it is essential to have food aid formulations, packaging and procurement procedures that are practical and suited to modern food systems, in order to keep prices reasonable and supplies adequate. We caution against overly complex systems for procurement, packaging and food formulation that would limit capacity, raise costs or result in fewer companies interested in supplying these critical food products.
Last updated August 2011