MFK Searching for Answers After Haiti Catastrophe

The powerful earthquake that rocked Port-au-Prince yesterday has left Meds & Food for Kids, a St. Louis-based non-profit with operations in Haiti, searching for answers.

MFK has lost contact with its Port-au-Prince depot manager, Papillon Gerard, and is unsure of his whereabouts or safety. The organization also does not yet know the state of the depot itself and the raw materials that it houses.  However, its food production facility in Cap-Haitien, northeast of the capital, appears to be unscathed.

“Almost everything is uncertain. Since phone service is down throughout the country, the Internet is our only means of communication right now.  So we are having trouble reaching our Haitian partners to get more information,” said Tom Stehl, MFK coordinator of operations.

MFK is dedicated to saving the lives of Haiti’s 250,000 malnourished children by producing a therapeutic food known as “Medika Mamba,” an enriched peanut paste endorsed by the World Health Organization and UNICEF. St. Louis pediatrician Patricia Wolff, MD, founded the organization in 2004, and it has since saved the lives of more than 13,000 malnourished children.

A second, equally vital, part of its mission is sustainability:  teaching Haitian farmers better agricultural practices so they can raise larger, healthier crops of peanuts, used in Medika Mamba.  MFK also employs Haitian workers at its plant, thus boosting the local economy.

In the wake of this earthquake, MFK knows that it will need to gear up to meet increased demand for its product.  Humanitarian crises closely follow natural disasters, like the string of hurricanes that hit Haiti in 2008.  Already this small nation, only 600 miles from the Florida coast, is the poorest in the Western Hemisphere.

“After the hurricanes, we saw a huge increase in the need for Medika Mamba,” Stehl added. “We expect, and are preparing for, a similar spike in demand over the coming weeks. Of course, we will need increased financial contributions to make this help a reality.”