The nutrition component of WFP operations has intrigued me since I first started browsing wfp.org many months ago. One of my goals for the summer was to learn more about the rations we give our beneficiaries.
Perhaps my favourite benefit of being an intern at headquarters is easily meeting with people from all of the divisions and on-going projects at WFP. One of the highlights of my summer has been talking to several people who work in food procurement and food nutrition in order to learn more about what we give. I’ve always been conscious of the nutritional value of foods and the importance of a balanced diet. Even after taking a college nutrition class, I was fascinated by the science and research backing each behind WFP food distribution. I didn’t realize how many factors must be carefully planned out for every operation. Different countries and different emergency situations require specifically tailored foods. Beneficiary age, gender, health, and other information must be taken into account. Micro and Macro nutrients must be set based on current health and local food alternatives. Even cultural norms must be balanced into the equation. I’ve developed a great appreciation for the consideration behind WFP rations.
I was particularly interested to learn about the special nutritional products: the Fortified Blended Foods, the Ready-to-Use Foods, the Micronutrient Powders, and the High Energy Biscuits. Check out more information and nutritional statistics
So, how do they taste? No, this is probably not the question on the minds of beneficiaries in emergency situations, but I sure was curious! So, naturally, in the name of research, I tried high energy biscuits, fortified date bars, and the much buzzed-about “plumpy!” Delicious and nutritious! For the record, my personal favourite is the fortified date bar. But in all seriousness, I think these special products are extremely innovative ways to feed beneficiaries, and are having a life-saving impact in emergency situations.