New Ben Hill Co. plant helps starving children worldwide - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Ben Hill Co. plant helps starving children worldwide

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By  Stephanie Springer  - bio | email

FITZGERALD, GA (WALB) – A brand new plant in Ben Hill County will soon start producing a product that will help feed starving children across the world. It's called MANA, and not only will it help children, but it will also help boost the local economy.

MANA stands for Mother Administered Nutritive Aid and in the past, clinics and hospitals had to mix up a product to give to children. This product can be given by the mother herself to her starving child.

Every six seconds a child dies from malnutrition related causes, but thanks to this new factory, more starving kids around the world will survive. "We have people around the world who cannot feed themselves so we have to step in a do something," said Mike Salza, Mana Operations.

It's called Mana, and each pouch contains peanut butter mixed with fortified milk. "On average we are seeing children gaining a pound per week," said Salza.

If a starving child eats three packets a day, for six weeks, he will get back to normal nutritive levels. "Typically, reports are showing us that once a kid recovers from severe acute malnutrition any of the 'Ready to use therapeutic foods' they never experience malnutrition again," said Salza.

It's the only Mana facility in America. The reason the plant is in Fitzgerald is because of Allen Conger. He is the only one who took a chance on the Non-profit company.

Conger says he's been to Africa a handful of times, and has seen with his own eyes just how bad the situation is. "Some of these kids look like a watermelon with four sticks stuck in them," he said.

He invested 1.7 million dollars in his own funds to build the facility, and design the system. "Hopefully we will be producing somewhere around 30 million pounds in the next year," said Conger.

His company, American Blanching is located adjacent to the new plant and will be instrumental in the production of Mana. "They are going to bring product over from next door, and they are going to mix that with a milk product and mix it with minerals," said Conger.@

This up and coming plant will also help out the local economy adding about 60 jobs over time and help the trucking industry. "It will put Mana on the map but also Fitzgerald on the map because we will be helping people worldwide, said John Flythe, Executive Director Fitzgerald Ben-Hill Co. Development Authority.

Next up, the hope plan to open up a smaller facility in Rwanda.

American Blanching has also been asked to make a product to help feed disaster victims who may not have any electricity or access to food in the case of an emergency. These products will be made with different ingredients, and they wont need refrigeration and will last for about two years.

They hope to start production on April 6th.

More on MANA-

MANA stands for Mother Administered Nutritive Aid. The group creates RUTF, or Ready to Use Therapeutic Food.

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