Our interview continues with Jeff King, senior director, global brand for Hershey to find out more about their partnership with Project Peanut Butter in Ghana. See Part I here.
Hershey also concentrated on helping local farmers grow peanuts more sustainably. How do they do that and what are the benefits?
Sustainability is critical for our future, and Hershey has been committed to ensuring the ongoing success of our partners and suppliers. Throughout 2014, Hershey sourcing experts have been on the ground working with Ghanaian peanut farmers. Many of these farms are small, few have equipment so the work is done by hand. We are helping them learn better planting and harvesting techniques that will increase productivity and expand Ghana’s peanut crop for the long term.
One of the company’s goals for this project is to help Ghana build its peanut farming industry to ensure strong, reliable sources of locally grown peanuts. This will not only provide a steady source of peanuts for the Project Peanut Butter plant, but will also pave the way for the future production of additional peanut-based foods and nutritional supplements for Ghana. This will also contribute to the economic growth of local communities.
Peanut butter is one of the top requested items by food banks, and peanut-based RUTF is recommended by the World Health Organization as a treatment for severe acute malnutrition. Did Hershey’s staff have the opportunity to meet any children or families who had been saved by RUTF?
Several of the Hershey volunteers were able to visit the Project Peanut Butter clinic in Malawi. There, they were able see the incredible impact of PPB’s RUTF as new patients, bone-thin with extended stomachs or swollen limbs, sat near others who were in their fifth or sixth week of treatment who looked and acted like normal, healthy children.
One of those who visited the clinic was Judy Cooley, principal scientist, and it was an extraordinary visit for her. She describes it this way. “I’ve worked in food product development for 36 years, but visiting a mobile clinic and meeting mothers who had walked for days to get the peanut-based RUTF packets for their children was life-changing. With the Ghanaian plant, Project Peanut Butter is giving mothers hope and children a chance for a brighter future.”
Was there any other support from the U.S. peanut industry in making this project happen?
As one of the country’s largest users of peanuts, Hershey is honored to have a strong, supportive relationship with the U.S. peanut industry. We were very pleased to have had Jeff Johnson, president of Birdsong Peanuts, with us on one of our trips to Ghana to meet with local farmers. We are proud to have joined with Birdsong in support of PPB. For both of our companies, working with PPB has been an amazing experience that has afforded our employees life-changing moments as we work to make a difference in this war against childhood malnutrition. We hope that others throughout the industry will join us in helping end this devastating condition.
You can help support the efforts of Project Peanut Butter by visiting www.projectpeanutbutter.org/donate. The peanut industry’s humanitarian organization Peanut Butter for the Hungry has provided thousands of dollars in support to PPB over the years, as well as to hunger causes in the US and across the world. To donate to Peanut Butter for the Hungry and receive a “Peanut Envy” tshirt from the National Peanut Board, visit www.squareup.com/market/nationalpeanutboard.