BLOOMINGTON, Ill., Jan. 15 Haiti's recent 7.0 earthquake has stepped up efforts by the Illinois Soybean Association (ISA), National Soybean Research Laboratory (NSRL) at the University of Illinois and the World Initiative for Soy in Human Health (WISHH), who are working together to formulate a plan to provide protein-rich food to the Haitian people.
A Catastrophic Earthquake
On January 12, 2010, the country of Haiti suffered a devastating earthquake centered about 10 miles outside the capital of Port-au-Prince. The city, which is home to over 2 million people, was already poor, with a fragile housing situation. The earthquake and its aftershocks have left tens of thousands of Haitians without homes, and many are trapped, injured or killed. According to the International Red Cross, about a third of Haiti's 9 million people will require emergency aid.
"We are working with NSRL and WISHH to determine the best ways we can help," Lyle Roberts, ISA's chief executive officer, said. "We had already begun a school feeding program that was intended to assist over 300 girls at a school in Haiti, but the quake has disrupted that work for now. We believe there are other ways we can help now; providing assistance with soy protein may be one of the most effective." He added that there are many discussions under way and plans will be announced soon.
A History of Assistance
For the past five years, the three organizations have partnered together to offer nutrition education and local training to target groups. Funded by the soybean checkoff, they have focused on providing school lunch programs, local product development and nutritional support for those living with HIV/AIDS. Over the years, Haiti projects have included training for hands-on soy cooking and working with textured soy protein (TSP), soymilk and defatted soy flour in local dishes. They also received instruction on food safety and proper storage, as well as introducing TSP into dishes served to four local schools and diets of HIV/AIDS patients. The NSRL also worked with local Haitian companies to develop soy-enhanced juice beverages, which were produced completely by the Haitian people. Last year, the three organizations trained local soy dairy and soy in meat industries, holding a seminar in Port-au-Prince for an audience of over 70 key industry and government officials. As a result, the dairy industry sent representatives for additional instruction at the NSRL.
School Lunch Program Slowed
Since then, the Haiti National School Lunch Program, PNCS, requested assistance in developing a soy-enhanced school lunch effort. A study was already under way, which would measure a pilot program's impact. The ultimate goal was to bring soy to the overall school lunch effort in Haiti. Already a market for U.S. soy proteins, Haiti has received about three to four containers of TSP each year. They have used soy products as meat substitutes for a local favorite - puff pizza - prepared on sidewalk grills, and incorporated TSP in the traditional Haitian rice and beans dish, Riz National.
In a pilot program, ISA, NSRL and WISHH have partnered with PNCS to introduce a soy-enhanced school lunch program for Caroline Chauveau Girls School. They began receiving the mid day meal last November. This project had begun to measure student acceptability of the dishes and the feasibility of the soy inclusion from the school cooks' perspectives.
"The school was chosen to not only impact the nutritional needs of the students, but to impact their understanding of the importance of balanced nutrition and soy's role in overall nutritional needs," Roberts continued. "We knew these adolescent girls would one day make the food choices for their households. Now that the program has been slowed, we are working on other efforts to help feed Haiti."
The Benefits of Soy
Soy has long been a source of high protein used to help feed the hungry in developing countries. A versatile, abundant and affordable source of complete protein, soy provides all the amino acids necessary to human health. Soy protein is comparable to the protein in milk, eggs and meat. Soy is also the least expensive source of high-quality protein and can be processed into a variety of high-protein food ingredients that can be added to any diet without changing the taste. Ideally suited to complement locally produced foods in developing countries, soy can fortify recipes with high-quality protein as well as provide dietary fiber and essential amino acids required by children, adolescents and adults.
About the Illinois Soybean Association
ISA is the statewide organization for Illinois soybean growers. The farmers on its board administer soybean checkoff funds to support research, promotions and educational programs designed to increase demand for Illinois soybeans, as well as administer legislation and membership programs. For more information, please visit www.ilsoy.org.
For more information, please contact: Amy Roady, ISA Communications Director, at (888) 826-4011 or firstname.lastname@example.org
SOURCE Illinois Soybean Association