By Henry Uche, Lagos
The Lagos Food Bank in partnership with Nutzy Peanuts says it has set out to feed at least 250,000 malnourished and indigent children in every low-cost private nursery and primary school in Lagos.
Speaking at the Launch of “Buy a jar, feed a child campaign” by the Food Bank and Nutzy Peanut CSR Initiative, in Lagos, the founder of Food Bank, Michael Sunbola, said the 250,000 target was the bank’s short term goal while its long term goal was to feed at least 250,000,000 pupils still in Lagos.
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According to him, the aim was to bring Hunger to Zero point, promote Good Health & Wellbeing which automatically enhance quality learning.
‘We understand that most children go to school empty stomachs. So we go took it upon ourselves to feed them Three (3) times every week (Every Tues, Wednesday & Thursday) as part of our school’s feeding programme.
‘We buy Nutzy Peanut Butter from our partner- Ajrena Foods Ltd at a reduced cost which helps to fix malnutrition in children. You know we can’t achieve quality education when school pupils are hungry, despite every other thing put in place,’ he said.
On her part, the nutrition/programme officer of the food bank, Abimbola Olukoya, revealed that the organisation has other programmes such as Temporary Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP)- a general food distribution programme; Education Enhancement Intervention (EDUFOOD)- for Food Insecure Students; Nutritious Meal Plan (NUMEPLAN) intervention for malnourished & Vulnerable Mothers & children; Nutrition Intervention for Diabetes Self-Management (NIDS) Program – which sensitises diabetes patients with relevant knowledge to live longer and healthier and provide them with diabetes compliance food items.
According to her, other humanitarian services they offer are job placement programme that links persons with some set skills to potential employers and family farming programme which empowers women for different agricultural ventures like Poultry, snail farming and vegetable seedlings.
‘The economy is not getting any better, we want to tackle food insecurity, already we have reached out to over six million families in our school feeding programme, and we remain auspicious to do greater. This is our service to divinity through service to humanity,’ she affirmed
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Speaking on the partnership, the Head of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) for Ajrena Foods Ltd, Serena Ramnani, said the essence of the collaboration was to ensure every child in Lagos gets a pack of Nutzy Peanut Butter, manufactured to fix malnutrition in children.
‘The whole idea is when an adult consumers buy a jar of Nutzy Creamy, it automatically means a free sachet of peanut butter for a child in Lagos, so the more people buy a jar of Nutzy Peanut Butter, the greater (in number) of children get our free sachet of peanut butter.
Ramnani stressed that the food bank is our trusted channel to pass across this gift to every child under 5 and lactating mothers in Lagos that fall under their Nutritious Meal Plan Intervention for Vulnerable Mothers and Children (NUMEPLAN).
‘Our aim is to donate at least 100,000 sachets of Nutzy Peanut Butter in next 2 months. We want to play a more active role in the fight against child malnutrition that is ‘silently’ plaguing the nation. The crisis is escalating in an undetected way with an estimated 80% of children affected not receiving the adequate treatment they need.
‘Without treatment, this condition affects the immune system, delays development both physically and mentally, stunts growth and causes death. According to UNICEF, severe acute malnutrition (SAM) is predicted to be the leading cause of death in children aged 0-5,’ she stated.
She added that peanut butter was often the first course of treatment administered to malnourished children; nutrient-dense, it is high in protein and heart-healthy fats, it is calorie-dense.
Given the numerous benefits, peanut paste has towards treating malnutrition and our close proximity to the crisis, we feel a strong sense of urgency to play a more active role in helping out.
‘When children/mothers in need of calories arrive at the Food Bank, their nutritionists conduct a series of nutritional assessments to determine those that need enrolment to the programme. All those enrolled will receive bi-weekly monitoring and access to Nutzy Peanut Butter sachets alongside other nutritious food items,’ she added.