Posted by Ramona Pleva

Andy Kempf introduced our speaker today, Dr. Glen McPherson. Dr. McPherson serves as a flight surgeon with Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City. His life of service includes the Peace Corps and in August 2018 he and two of children Emma and Alex traveled to Malawi to help address the struggles of malnutrition.

Malawi is the 6th poorest country in the world and food security is a major healthcare issue. Childhood malnutrition can lead to decreased fertility rates, lower IQ, government instability, famine vulnerability and economic stagnation.

Most malnutrition occurs with children age 6 months to the age of five and can lead to diarrhea, malaria, acute respiratory infections and Marasmus. One way to assess for malnutrition is an upper arm circumference measurement. The measurement is easy to perform and is not influenced by body type or edema.

To address the malnutrition challenge, Project Peanut Butter was formed. Peanut butter packets are distributed to Malawian children. The packets contain precisely constructed nutrients, require no refrigeration or mixing with water, no heat is required for preparation, and can be eater with minimal assistance. Every two weeks children are assessed at a local clinic. If a child is not thriving, food distribution and health of the child are reviewed.

The peanut butter packets are made by Malawians with mostly locally sourced food. They are manufactured in Malawi which helps provide sustainability for the program.

The peanut butter is held to European Union standards for cleanliness. Approximately 600 metric tons are produced each year. Project Peanut Butter is expanding to Sierra Leone, Ghana and the Ivory Coast.

Both Alex and Emma articulately shared their thoughts regarding their experience of traveling to Malawi. Alex sees himself serving in the Peace Corps. Emma transcended the language barrier and connected with the children by drawing sketches of them and sharing her paper and pens.

To learn more about Project Peanut Butter please visit: https://www.projectpeanutbutter.org/