There aren’t a lot of places that provide food delivery for one million people at a time.
But a nonprofit called Breedlove Foods has been doing just that for almost a quarter century—through what they describe as a technological and logistical miracle.
Since 1994, the Lubbock, Texas based nonprofit and food processor has provided 1.5 billion meals to people in some of the world’s worst situations, from whole villages of people facing famine half a world away to first responders rescuing people in nearby flood zones.
“Our food can mean the difference between life and death,” said Mark Wentling Breedlove Foods development director for Africa.
The company’s goal is to pack the most nutrition into the least amount of space by creating food that meets three key requirements: it must be compact and lightweight, making it cheaper to ship and easier to handle, the food must also be easy to digest yet nutritious, because people dealing with long-term hunger can have sensitive digestive tracts, and it must have a long shelf life so it can be stored without spoiling.
Breedlove’s product clears all three hurdles.
A lentil and dehydrated vegetable mix might not sound like much, but Breedlove has distilled a lot of science into this simple offering.
It’s easy to digest for those facing long-term hunger, but can be easily seasoned for regional tastes resulting in more than 300 different recipes. Dehydration reduces its size and weight, but adding water and cooking the mixture turns a few spoonfuls into a bowl of food packed with protein and carbohydrates necessary to restore strength and energy. Lastly, it has a two-year shelf life.
Some of Breedlove’s other products, which are designed to be stored in food banks or home disaster kits, can remain viable in their sealed containers for 25 years. That’s longer than the company has been around.
“Prolonged hunger can result in malnutrition which lowers the body’s immunity to disease,” Wentling said. “Nutrition is the foundation of life and our foods provide much needed hope for better lives.”
Following the 7.8 magnitude earthquake in Ecuador earlier this year, the nonprofit shipped survivors a million meals — all in a single, 40-foot cargo container. Getting that many food servings into such a small space is just one of the logic-defying feats that Breedlove performs every day.
This specific strain of food can be crucial when people in need are in remote villages, and cargo space on a small helicopter is at a premium. Last year, after the earthquake in Nepal, the nonprofit was able to fly in food for the 1,700 people who lost all of their crops and water supply.
“We provided food for 250 families to eat two meals a day for seven days. Took nine helicopter flights to get it all in.” Kevin Weldon, a volunteer with Baptist Medical and Dental Mission International on the ground in Nepal, said in a letter to Breedlove at the time.
To date, Breedlove has supplied food through partnerships with USAID and other global relief organizations to 65 countries.
This past spring, the organization fundraised $75,000 to ship three million of their meals to eastern and southern Africa as part of a special project, “Breedlove for Africa: Spreading Hope One Meal at a Time.”
Extended drought has put a half million children in Malawi at risk of malnutrition and two million South African households face food insecurity because of the worst dry spell there since 1982.
“We feel a great sense of pride in being able to feed the hungry in desperate need of nutritious food,” Wentling said.
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