Eggs for a Brighter Future: Our Presentation at the Iowa Hunger Summit
October 1, 2023
In the heart of Des Moines, at the prestigious World Food Prize Foundation Hall of Laureates, Blessman International, in collaboration with key partners, recently took center stage at the Iowa Hunger Summit to shed light on an innovative approach to combating child malnutrition. The presentation, titled "The Benefits of Adding an Egg a Day to Child Feeding Program," featured Dr. Jim Blessman of Blessman International, Tom Dixon of Hy-Line International, Bruce Dooyema of Versova, and Jeffrey Goddard, a student at the University of Iowa Carver School of Medicine.
A Startling Reality: Poverty and Poor Health
The session began by highlighting a harsh reality: poverty and poor health outcomes are closely intertwined. The World Bank has classified South Africa as one of the most unequal countries globally, with a staggering 20% of the population living in extreme poverty, earning less than $2 per day. This dire economic situation directly contributes to the alarming statistic that three out of every ten children in South Africa suffer from stunted growth, hindering their development and perpetuating the cycle of poverty.
A Lifeline for South African Children
The folks at Hy-Line International approached Blessman International, an organization dedicated to nourishing South African children with calorie-rich, nutritious meals three to five times a week, to join forces with them to address this pressing issue. Blessman International had already been diligently collecting crucial data on attendance, meal consumption, education, height, weight, and arm circumference for years to gauge the impact of their programs on the lives of the children they serve.
The Power of an Egg
Hy-Line International introduced a game-changing element to the equation: eggs. They provided Blessman International with 1,200 Silver Brown pullets, intending to add one hard-boiled egg to the children's daily diet at the feeding center in Mokopane. This seemingly simple addition packs a powerful punch: a single egg contains six grams of protein, five grams of healthy fats, 80 calories, and essential vitamins and minerals, including A, B5, B12, D, Folate, Phosphorous, and Selenium. Bruce Dooyema of Versova traveled to the Blessman campus in South Africa to lend his considerable expertise to the project.
A Scientific Journey to Impact
The project's first phase focuses on establishing a rigorous scientific study to monitor the health outcomes of a select group of children at Blessman International's central feeding center in Mokopane. University of Iowa medical student Jeffrey Goddard lived in South Africa for three months and helped launch the program. His considerable expertise and collaborative spirit garnered cooperation from officials at local schools and the University of Venda, both critical for the program's success.
Scaling Up for a Brighter Future
Once the proof-of-concept is validated, the team will conduct an official study involving a broader group of children. These children will receive meal rations along with the daily egg from the flock, and their well-being outcomes will be meticulously documented. The study is anticipated to conclude by mid-2024.
Armed with concrete scientific data, the team's ultimate mission is to expand the program, bringing the benefits of egg consumption to a much larger population. This expansion aims to incorporate egg protein into Blessman's comprehensive 60,000-child feeding program, creating a brighter future for countless South African children.
The Value of Partnerships
We are grateful to our dedicated partners, Hy-Line International, Versova, and Jeffrey Goddard. Our presentation at the Iowa Hunger Summit showcased their commitment to fighting child malnutrition and their innovative and data-driven approach. By adding an egg a day to our child feeding program, we are all taking a significant step towards breaking the cycle of poverty and offering hope for a healthier, more prosperous future for South African children. This collaborative effort underscores the power of partnerships and the potential to make a real difference in the lives of those in need.
Watch the presentation here: Egg-a-Day Presentation at Iowa Hunger Summit