FOOD SECURITY + NUTRITION

Fighting Hunger and Malnutrition

Malnutrition, extreme poverty, and climate change are inextricably linked. Our emerging Food Security + Nutrition initiative focuses on interventions at the nexus of these issues.

After steadily declining for a decade, world hunger is again on the rise, affecting 10% of the global population. In sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia, malnutrition causes 45% of deaths of children under the age of five, and leaves 1 in 4 children physically and cognitively stunted. In the face of these grim numbers, malnutrition remains a highly neglected problem by donors. King Philanthropies is building a new portfolio of grants and investments that seek to address the critical need and deliver impact in food security and nutrition outcomes.

Particles for Humanity

Particles for Humanity is the first pilot grant in our Food Security + Nutrition portfolio. Focusing on breakthrough medical technologies for low resource settings, Particles for Humanity has pioneered a new technology to stabilize Vitamin A with an encapsulation material so that foods can be fortified effectively. Incubated at the Langer Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, this innovation could have long-term potential for enormous reach across Africa, where Vitamin A deficiency is a tremendous health threat, causing night blindness, stunting and death. Current methods of fortifying foods with Vitamin A have limited success due to both the cost of using supplementation drops, and the instability and fragility of Vitamin A when in powder form. The innovative encapsulation material stabilizes Vitamin A so that it can be used in dry powder form to fortify foods like bouillon, a condiment consumed daily by 80% of the population of sub-Saharan Africa. In doing so, there is potential to consistently reach nearly 90 million children and pregnant women who are Vitamin A-deficient.

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Valala Farms

We also support Valala Farms, a project sponsored by the California Academy of Sciences, in developing, producing, and evaluating the use of cricket powder in porridge to fight famine and malnutrition in Madagascar. Nearly half of all children in Madagascar suffer from micronutrient deficiencies, with numbers projected to rise as climate change leads to increasing rates of food insecurity. Fortified with protein, iron, and vitamin B-12 from cricket powder, Valala Farms’ porridge offers an alternate source of protein to meat, making it more sustainable than livestock farming which contributes to the destruction of the island’s forests and produces significantly higher greenhouse emissions. Named for the nutrient-rich insect, Valala Farms partners with international aid agency Catholic Relief Services to supply the cricket powder to country-wide famine relief projects, school lunch programs, and tuberculosis treatment centers.

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Additional context guiding our nutrition work at King Philanthropies

More than two billion people around the world suffer from deficiencies in essential micronutrients including iron, Vitamin A, folic acid, and iodine. Malnourishment during pregnancy can have disastrous effects on the fetus, including stillbirth, low birth weight, brain and spinal defects, and developmental delays. For adolescent women, malnutrition is directly linked to reduced cognitive and physical capacities, reduced economic productivity, and increased mortality. A child dies of malnutrition every eleven seconds.

And yet, malnutrition remains a highly neglected problem – less than 1% of global development donor dollars are invested in high impact solutions for malnutrition. The need for proven, sustainable, and scalable innovations to combat this problem has never been more acute.

But solutions to hunger and malnutrition must be achieved in tandem with efforts to combat climate change. There is a pressing need for increased food production to sustain a growing global population. Each year, climate change pushes more and more people into extreme poverty, as it brings new famines, destroys access to nutritious food and continues the vicious cycle. Investing in high-impact interventions that directly and indirectly improve food security and nutrition within the context of addressing climate change has never been more important.

Find Out More

Standing Together to Fight Hunger and Malnutrition

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Food for Thought: Fighting Malnutrition to Unlock Human Potential

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Kim Starkey Comments at Nutrition for Growth Summit

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New Technology Improves Vitamin A Fortification

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Related Portfolio Organizations

Grants Impact Investments