Jul 22, 2015
WASHINGTON, DC -- USA Rice was one of the selected exhibitors at a Capitol Hill celebration yesterday on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the U.S. Food for Peace program. Food for Peace has provided life-saving food assistance through the use of in-kind food donations including rice, to more than three billion people in vulnerable communities around the world. The event was hosted by the Chairmen of the House Committee on Agriculture and the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture. House Committee on Agriculture Chair Mike Conaway (R-TX) thanked USA Rice, other attendees, and the American people for their willingness and desire to feed the world's hungry.
"This was an important opportunity for USA Rice to showcase longstanding participation in, and commitment to, the U.S. global feeding programs and to provide information to Congress, USAID, and Private Voluntary Organizations (PVOs) on the introduction of a new fortified rice product to address hidden hunger," said Jim Guinn, USA Rice's vice president of international promotion.
While the U.S. has made progress in addressing overall hunger, hidden hunger -- in the form of severe micronutrient deficiencies -- remains a major impediment to proper development in many vulnerable communities. Statistics from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) note that more than two billion people still suffer from hidden hunger.
Fortified rice is the first new product introduced to U.S. global feeding programs as a result of research and testing conducted under the auspices of both USAID and USDA. Extensive studies have shown that fortified rice is widely accepted by communities worldwide and is effective in addressing some of the most severe deficiencies such as vitamin A and anemia.
Fortified rice contains levels of iron, thiamin, zinc, vitamin A, folic acid, and other B vitamins, formulated in a way that allows for maximum nutrient uptake. "The look and taste of fortified rice is just like regular milled rice," says Dr. Yi Wu, Chief Innovation Director of the Wright Group, a company that produces fortified rice. "Recent trials in Cambodia and the historical (in some cases mandatory) use of fortified rice in the Philippines and Costa Rica, have shown both wide scale acceptance of the product and efficiency in nutrient bioavailability to address hidden hunger. Rice is one of the most consumed foods in the world and through fortification, the nutritional needs of vulnerable populations will be met in an appetizing, culturally-appropriate way."
Fortified rice is now part of USAID's Master List of commodities and it is expected that several PVOs will begin to specify this product in feeding rations in both USDA's McGovern Dole school feeding programs and USAID's Food for Peace programs as a cost effective and culturally appropriate way to address the persistent challenge of hidden hunger.