Feb 24, 2012 • By

Fighting hunger in Africa

Today, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah visited General Mills’ technical center in Golden Valley, Minn., to recognize employee volunteers for their global citizenship. The recognition was given to General Mills for its work with food processors and small-holder farmers in Africa through its hunger-fighting nonprofit, Partners in Food Solutions (PFS).

(Dr. Rajiv Shah, Ken Powell, chairman and CEO; and Peter Erickson, senior vice president of Innovation, Technology and Quality)

During his remarks, Dr. Shah recognized the need for initiatives like PFS that help create sustainable solutions for hunger in Africa.

A particularly moving portion of his address came as he recounted the heart-wrenching experience of witnessing Somali women who had walked 50 or 100 miles to reach a refugee camp in Dadabb, Kenya, just over the Somali border. All had left their homes due to drought and lack of food. Some had been abused and sexually assaulted during their journey. One woman Shah saw had been forced to make a decision no mother should have to make. Unable to carry both children, she had to make the choice to save only one child, leaving the other behind.

Shah thanked employee volunteers for using their unique technical and business expertise to help African food processers produce high-quality, nutritious and safe food at affordable prices, thereby increasing the demand for the crops of small-holder farmers.

Following his remarks, Shah presented General Mills Chairman and CEO Ken Powell with USAID’s Global Citizenship award on behalf of the PFS employee volunteers.

“For General Mills, a key way for us to have an impact [on global poverty] is by sharing our food technology expertise,” said Powell. “I am honored to accept the Global Citizenship Award on behalf of General Mills, and specifically, the more than 300 volunteers who have stepped up to make this effort a reality. Through their work, and the meaningful support of our partners, we are making a measurable difference.”

Powell thanked Cargill, DSM and TechnoServe. All work collectively with USAID and General Mills to fight hunger in Africa through PFS.

He went on to highlight the passion of several employee volunteers, including Erika Smith, a senior principal scientist for General Mills. Over the past two years, Erica and her team have helped improve marketing and product quality for Project Peanut Butter, a nonprofit partner of PFS that provides ready-to-eat therapeutic food to children in Malawi suffering from severe acute malnutrition. PFS has helped Project Peanut Butter save more than $200,000 by assisting them with access to nonfat dried milk at reduced prices.

Also in attendance at the event today were several Minnesota dignitaries, including Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Rep. Erik Paulsen, Rep. Keith Ellison and Rep. Betty McCollum. Each has been engaged in fighting hunger and addressing human rights issues in Minnesota and around the world.

PFS is currently working with 30 food processors on 77 projects in Kenya, Zambia, Tanzania and Malawi. As these food processors grow, they are able to hire more workers and buy more raw materials from small-holder farmers. With more income, the farmers can pay school fees, access better medical care and start businesses.

For more information about Partners in Food Solutions, visit PartnersinFoodSolutions.com.