Reaching Last-Mile Communities in South Africa with Fortified Food

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In South Africa during the current COVID-19 pandemic, massive food security issues have arisen in addition to the daily challenges of access to water and harsh living conditions. While under a nationwide lockdown, food distribution is critical to impoverished South African communities.

To help change the situation of many families living in South Africa, Sight and Life has provided Level Up, a fortified instant cereal full of nutritional benefits, through our longstanding partner Sizanani Mzanzi, supplier of the instant cereal. In partnership with organizations like Bambanani and Savanna Lodge, we have helped immensely in securing a meal a day for the most vulnerable members of the rural communities. These communities consist of young children and old age individuals who struggle with various health issues like HIV and AIDS, tuberculosis, diabetes, hypertension, and malnutrition. “The support and generous funding from Sight and Life allows this process to occur and provide nutritious meals to families for four to eight weeks,” states Ed Rakhorst, project manager for Bambanani.

Impact of nutrition

Typically, fortified cereals are offered in school to underprivileged and malnourished children ensuring they are consuming a healthy meal that contains all the essential vitamins and minerals required in their daily diet. Due to the lockdown putting a hold on children attending school this daily meal has not reached those who need it most.

Level Up cereal is endorsed by the South African Heart and Stroke Foundation and provides 13 vitamins and 4 minerals while also being high in fiber, energy and protein creating a nutritious meal.

Bambanani

In late April 2020, Sight and Life teamed up with long time partner Bambanani, a humanitarian organization based in Phalaborwa, Limpopo, South Africa, to deliver fortified food to last-mile communities, especially those children affected by school closings.

Bambanani focuses on the care, schooling, and nutrition needs of children from 0-6 years of age, including some orphaned and disabled children. Sight and Life donated Level Up cereal for children and their families to be distributed through the Bambanani network of schools.
“Most of these children are unable to receive adequate daily nutritional requirements due to the following socio-economic factors such as unemployment and overpopulated communal living,” explains Rakhorst.

At the Reneilwe School in Namakgale, there are many touching scenarios as to why these children and their families are in need. From unemployed or living on social grants to children with health concerns each story is important. For example, Blessing receives Level UP because he does not eat well, and his health is not good. Adding to this already difficult situation, his parents are unemployed and have no income or social grants for their family of six. Or there is Happy who lives in a household consisting of four uncles (one consumes alcohol), two aunts, and a total of five children all living together below the poverty line and receiving Level Up. These are just two of the many circumstances in which Bambanani can touch and change the lives of those in need.

Through Bambanani, the Level Up product is also fed to children that are diagnosed with HIV to get back on their feet, full of energy, and live their lives like normal children. These children will use the Level Up product seven days a week to maintain a healthy diet full of the needed vitamins and minerals.

Savanna Lodge

Located in Mpumalanga, South Africa, Savanna Lodge is a private game farm and dedicated to helping the local villages where many of their staff live. They have been delivering Level Up cereal, donated by Sight and Life, at least once a day to vulnerable orphans and children and elderly community members providing an extra boost of vitamins and minerals needed during this time.

“We have been able to distribute a box of cereal to every child at the center (Tiyimiseleni Project) and will continue to do so for as long as the lockdown continues. Thereafter, the cereal will be used at the center itself. It has been distributed to Hlayisekani Nursing Home, and stock is being kept for Mketsi Primary School,” explains Jennifer Harman, project manager for Savanna Lodge.

Tiyimiseleni Project is a community care center run as a social responsibility project by Savanna Lodge. It supports about 250 vulnerable children and HIV/AIDS orphans, giving them a safe place to go to where they get a nutritious meal, have an adult to talk to, can do their homework, and just be children for a while.

Mketse Primary School has approximately 650 students and is situated in an area where it is estimated that around 25% of the children come from child-headed households. The vision of the passionate Headmaster and dedicated staff is to provide knowledge and skills that will enable students to carry out a productive role in society and so give back to their community. Sight and Life has a longstanding relationship with the school and contribute towards this vision through its support of the school lunch program. In so doing, we are supporting keeping these children’s young bodies healthy, active, and ready to learn.

In the communities around Savanna Lodge, the situations are less than ideal. One such example is Maria’s family consisting of seven family members and both parents have passed away. She is 20 years old and unemployed and the siblings (ages 3 to 16) are in schools and they attend Tiyimiseleni home-based are for regular meals and medical assistance. Savanna built a house for Maria and her siblings to live in as they do not have identification documents making them unable to apply for state social grants. Currently, the schools and the home-based care centers are closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and all of the children rely on the school feeding scheme from Tiyimiseleni for their daily meal. The donation of Level Up cereal made by Sight and Life provides them with at least one regular meal a day for many weeks.

The Nyambi family of three struggles as the mother is unemployed and undergoing HIV treatment and raising two children (8 and 14 years old). Due to the two children not having identification documents they are unable to claim state social grants to help support the family. Therefore, they have no income, or extended family members to assist them. The children are reliant on school feeding programs and meals from Tiyimiseleni home-based care thus making the Sight and Life contribution extremely important.

“This is just the beginning, there is more to be done during challenging times like this pandemic and in the long-term to take on malnutrition. We are proud to support and work with partners and organizations such as Bambanani and Savanna Lodge, who care for people and their futures,” remarks Klaus Kraemer, Managing Director for Sight and Life.

Opinion: Engaging nutrition to improve pregnancy outcomes

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On December 17, 2019, Devex published “Opinion: Engaging nutrition to improve pregnancy outcomes” by Klaus Kraemer, managing director of Sight and Life and adjunct associate professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The full article can be read here on Devex.

Abstract

Good nutrition sets off a ripple effect. It can dismantle inequity, poverty, and poor health and drive progress at every stage in life. It supports physical and cognitive development, helps prevent a number of medical conditions — from spina bifida to diabetes — and saves lives.

During and after pregnancy, nutrition demands are greater — as are the consequences of not meeting them. For mothers, ensuring a healthy pregnancy limits the risk of life-threatening complications. And for their children, good nutrition during pregnancy can be the difference between being born healthy and being born physically or mentally disadvantaged.

It is critical that we sustain our momentum on nutrition, a task that requires greater investment in cultivating a cadre of leaders to take us there, argues Klaus Kraemer, director at Sight and Life.

While diet diversity remains the preferred means for women to meet nutrient requirements during pregnancy, many nutrient needs cannot be met through diet alone, especially in resource-constrained settings. As such, it is imperative that we reach women and girls with effective interventions for improving maternal nutrition that are ready for global scale-up now. Multiple micronutrient supplementation, or MMS, during pregnancy could be one way to help meet maternal nutrition needs.

Read the full article on Devex here.

Introducing Chromium

Boosting the Metabolism

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Chromium is an essential mineral required in small amounts by the body and plays an important role in the metabolism of carbohydrates and fats. Of significance is the finding that individuals with adequate dietary chromium have improved control over blood glucose and a better blood lipid profile. Chromium helps maintain blood glucose levels by enhancing the activity of the hormone insulin. Like iron, chromium assumes different charges. Cr3+ is the most stable form and is commonly found in foods.

The Primary Sources of Chromium

Chromium is commonly found in egg yolk, whole grains, high-bran cereals, green beans, broccoli, nuts, and brewer’s yeast. A diet rich in simple sugars may actually increase urinary excretion of chromium due to enhanced insulin secretion.

Bioavailability of Chromium

The low pH of the stomach enhances chromium availability. Vitamin C enhances chromium absorption.

Risks Related to Inadequate Intake of Chromium

Chromium deficiency in humans is very rare. Cases of chromium deficiency have been described in a few patients on long-term intravenous feeding who did not receive supplemental chromium in their intravenous solutions.

Find more information on vitamins and micronutrient deficiencies though our partner, Vitamin Angels or download our complete vitamin and mineral guide here

Incorporate chromium into your next meal by trying the delicious recipe below…

Eggs Florentine Pizza*

Base Ingredients
125ml milk
1 tsp golden caster sugar
2 tsp dried yeast
500g ‘00’ pasta flour or bread flour, plus extra for dusting
1 tbsp olive oil

Topping Ingredients
4 tomatoes
2 garlic cloves, crushed
small bunch oregano, chopped (or 1 tsp dried oregano)
80g bag baby spinach
50g parmesan (or Vegetarian alternative), grated
125g ball mozzarella, torn into pieces
4 large eggs

Method

To begin, pour 150ml boiling water into a jug with the milk and sugar. Sprinkle in the yeast and leave to stand for 10 mins or until frothy. In a large bowl, stir together the flour and 1 tsp salt, then make a well in the centre. Then, pour in the olive oil, followed by the yeast mixture. Stir well, then knead together in the bowl to form a soft dough. Transfer to a floured surface and knead for 10 mins. Put the dough in a bowl, cover with cling film and leave in a warm place for 1 hr. 

Peel the tomatoes by scoring the skins with a cross, putting them in a bowl and pouring over just-boiled water. Drain the water after 2-3 mins and the skins will peel away easily. Coarsely grate the tomatoes, then stir in the garlic and oregano. Blanch the spinach by drenching it in boiling water in a colander over the sink. Leave the spinach until it’s cool enough to handle, then squeeze out any excess moisture. 

Heat oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7. Divide your dough into 4 and shape each piece into a ball. Roll the bases out flat to about 25cm diameter and dimple the surfaces with your fingers. Spread each one with the tomato paste, season, then divide the cooked spinach between the 4 pizzas. Top with grated Parmesan and torn mozzarella. 

Slide the pizzas directly onto hot oven shelves or baking sheets. Bake 2 at a time for 5 mins, then nudge the toppings away from the centre slightly to create a gap in which to crack the eggs. Return the pizzas to the oven to finish cooking – they should take another 6-7 mins, depending on how you like your yolk.

*Recipe thanks to BBC Good Food