Vita Mamba – the USDA School Snack Study Design
Malnutrition of school-aged children ages 3 and up is often overlooked because the acute malnutrition seen in children under the age of 24 months is so evident in their big bellies. However, older children still suffer from micronutrient deficiency, anemia and diarrhea due to malnutrition and MFK is looking for a solution to this devastating problem. MFK’s School Snack Program, which just wrapped up its final distribution of snacks this June in Haiti, is a study researching ways to prevent this malnutrition funded by the USDA. Large NGO purchasers such as the WHO, WFP, and UNICEF as well as the Ministries of Health and Education in Haiti are always investigating products, which can make a large impact on the nutrient deficiencies in young children. The study was conducted in order to see if Vita Mamba, a peanut paste product that contains sufficient vitamins and micronutrients for a day, could be a solution to these deficiencies in malnourished populations and a possible product to invest in.
The program split six schools into three groups, a control group which did not receive snacks during the day (however will receive snacks now that the study has finished), a second group which received a cereal bar and the last group received Vita Mamba. For the past six months students in these schools received a snack Monday through Friday and were observed by six Haitian nurses who took regular measurements on the students. The data collected included measurements on height, weight, fat and water content, and hemoglobin and folic acid levels.
Analysis has just begun to see if either product, the cereal bar or the high nutrient Vita Mamba, could help reduce and prevent malnutrition for school children. Although it is still early to say, the preliminary results have been very positive for Vita Mamba! Parents and students alike have reported an increase in energy, engagement, and learning. We are hopeful that Vita Mamba as a school snack will have a large impact on reducing malnourishment in Haiti and other countries in the world.