HERSHEY, Pa. (AP) — The Hershey Co. said Monday it will help build and operate a peanut processing plant aimed at fighting malnutrition in the African nation where it obtains much of the cocoa it uses to make chocolate.
The candy manufacturer will partner with Project Peanut Butter, a pediatrician's program, to distribute a peanut-based, nutrient-enriched food to malnourished children in rural Ghana.
"Without Hershey, we would have to raise all the money ourselves, which would take two or three years, minimum," said Mardi Manary, administrator for Project Peanut Butter, which based in the St. Louis suburb of Maplewood, Mo. "They stepped in and offered to help with help finding land, also, technical services for this factory — and money."
She said the candy maker's support was key to establishing a workable distribution system, allowing for "a complete program, instead of just dumping it at the dock and hoping Doctors without Borders can distribute it."
Hershey calls the West African nation the source of much of its cocoa and one of the top 10 peanut-growing countries in the world. The company plans to work with Project Peanut Butter to process peanuts bought from local farmers.
The product, termed "ready to use therapeutic food," will be provided to relief agencies for free distribution to malnourished children in Ghana.
Project Peanut Butter currently operates in Malawi, Sierra Leone and Mali. Ready to use therapeutic food has demonstrated a 95 percent success rate in helping children recover from malnutrition, compared with less than 50 percent for traditional hospital-based help.
Project Peanut Butter began in 2002. Manary said the organization looks for stable governments, a capacity to purchase or plant peanuts locally, and of course, a population of malnourished children.