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U of I project aims to assist Haiti
with soy-fortified foods    
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[JULY 23, 2004]  URBANA -- The National Soybean Research Laboratory at the University of Illinois has been working closely for several years with the Illinois Soybean Checkoff Board on the World Initiative for Soy in Human Health program.

"The goal of this program is to improve the diets of people in the developing world who are suffering from malnutrition and devastating diseases, while also providing a use for abundant U.S. soybeans," said Pradeep Khanna, associate director of the National Soybean Research Laboratory. "This is being achieved through work with private voluntary organizations and U.S. soybean processors to introduce soybeans and soy products into developing countries where soy has not traditionally been available."

Khanna notes that recent efforts have focused on two major programs. One project is aimed at introducing soy foods into school programs in countries with problems from childhood malnutrition and protein deficiencies. The other is focused on providing nutritional assistance to people suffering from HIV/AIDS.

"We already support programs in a number of countries, including Botswana, Senegal, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Mozambique and Zimbabwe," Khanna said. "We also have recently completed the first year of a major pilot program in Honduras. This effort has been so successful that it is being greatly expanded during the second year of the project."

Another important program is now under way in Haiti. An agreement was recently reached with a local private voluntary organization, Espoir Anaise, to provide soy protein products to nearly 300 families with at least one member infected with HIV.

"Arrangements were also worked out with the National Program of School Canteens to conduct a demonstration project on using soy protein in the Haitian school lunch program," Khanna said. "The plan is to fortify the school lunches of more than 1,300 students in four different schools with soy protein."


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The project aims to demonstrate the ease of adding soy to the lunches and to document the acceptance of those foods by the students. The organizers will also seek to increase awareness of the benefits of soy foods among parents, teachers, students and the community at large.

As part of this program, staff from the National Soybean Research Laboratory and the World Initiative for Soy in Human Health recently completed a two-day training session in Miami for representatives from Espoir Anaise, the National Program of School Canteens and other Haitian development groups.

"The training provided detailed instruction on the basics of adding soy to the Haitian diet, including instruction on proper handling and storage and on how to improve the taste and quality of soy-fortified foods," Khanna said. "We also spent time training on the proper methods for collecting data from the project."

Khanna noted that one shipping container of soy products, which included textured soy protein and soy flour, has already been sent to Haiti. Part of the consignment was contributed by Cargill. Shipping for the container was arranged by the American Soybean Association.

"Illinois soybean growers have been at the forefront of this project from the beginning," Khanna said. "This is just another example of the way farmers have shown that they are responsible citizens in the world. With their help, we have been able to do a lot of good things for people in need."

[University of Illinois news release]

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