With Amway's Nutrilite Power of 5 Campaign and micronutrient powders like Little Bits, Jeff Terry and company are able to promote childhood nourishment in 15 countries and counting. Matthew Russell learns what the nutrition giant is doing to make smart social investments in the world's children, one child at a time.
The fight against world hunger isn't a battle easily won, but Jeff Terry and Amway are doing more and more each year to push the scales in the favor of children.
Within the first five years of life, 45 percent of childhood deaths are attributed to malnutrition, and chronic malnutrition in the first five years causes cognitive and physical stunting.
Through Amway’s Nutrilite
brand, which specializes in dietary supplements, Amway has the nutrition expertise to address the issue of childhood malnutrition, says Terry, global manager of Amway’s Corporate Social Responsibility arm.
“We developed Nutrilite Little Bits
, the first micronutrient powder for malnutrition enhanced with plant nutrients, as a solution to help ensure children from 6 months to 5 years old receive the necessary nutrition needed to help them grow,” he said.
Amway released the results of a pilot study conducted with Un Kilo de Ayuda
and the Instituto Nacional de Nutrición Salvador Zubirán
(Salvador Zubirán National Institute of Nutrition in Mexico) at the Second World Congress of Public Health Nutrition and the First Latin American Congress of Community Nutrition in September 2010 in Porto, Portugal. They sought to test the efficacy of its Little Bits program in Mexico with approximately 125 children ages 1 to 5 years old. Prevalence of iron deficiency anemia was reduced by nearly 90 percent after 6 months of intervention, with prevalence of stunting reduced by 18 percent, and prevalence of low body weight reduced by more than 6 percent. The children showed to be more active, talkative, and playful in just six months.
Little Bits was designed to be delivered as part of an integrated health program that takes nutritional, medical, cultural, economic and environmental factors into account to ensure the well-being of children. Amway will partner with organizations that can best deliver integrated services at the local level to those in need, including medical monitoring, clean water, sanitation and hygiene and other important interventions.
The product is now registered to use in six countries and will be distributed to another nine by 2017. And by partnering with organizations like Un Kilo de Ayuda and other local implementers of effective nutrition and feeding programs and providing Nutrilite Little Bits to them through the Power of 5 Campaign
, Terry says, the current programs are made even better. The Power of 5 Campaign was launched in 2014 as a communication and awareness raising campaign to highlight the important role nutrition plays in the first five years of life and to invite individuals to fight childhood malnutrition.
The idea for Little Bits came from both a need for nutrition in small communities, and the results of new forays into supplements, Terry says.
“Many of our workers at a Nutrilite farm in Brazil noticed a need. They saw the malnourished state of children in the surrounding communities and began to take plants that we farm to create a mashed-up mix of nutrient-rich ingredients,” he says. “They partnered with local schools to incorporate this multi-mix into cafeteria food fed to the children.”
The World Health Organization
(WHO), along with UNICEF
and World Food Programme
, developed guidelines for micronutrient powders to be used in times of emergencies around the same time.
“The WHO guidance for 15 essential vitamins and minerals served as a template for us to develop Little Bits,” Terry says.
An issue like childhood malnutrition can’t be addressed by one person, one company or even one sector, Terry admits, which is why Amway works closely with global NGOs and the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition.
“We are members of the United Nations Scaling Up Nutrition Business Network, which is a part of the UN movement to engage the private sector, civil society, the donor community and country-level governments to address this issue on the ground,” Terry says. “We learn through these partners and contribute to the solutions-focused conversations where we can.”
And keeping an eye on the small successes is just as important as amounting a heavy attack when it comes to such a large issue as child hunger.
“Every day a child receives Nutrilite Little Bits as part of their diet, they are getting necessary and critical nutrients that are fortifying their bodies for growth and helping fight off bad things they may be exposed to in their environments,” Terry says. “We are dedicated to helping children reach their fifth birthday. This takes a sustained approach and commitment.”
Little Bits is a part of an ongoing intervention effort, along with food, education and regular health assessments until a child’s fifth year, Terry says. Amway plans to reach at least 20,000 children by 2017.
“Frankly, though, success is more about long-term health outcomes as opposed to reaching as many kids as possible,” Terry says. “We want to make sure that the children benefiting from the Power of 5 Campaign with Little Bits achieve a healthy state defined by not being stunted in stature. Stunted growth is the globally recognized measure for malnutrition.”
At Amway, Terry works with key in-company partners, the Nutrilite product development team, marketing and public relations to ensure Little Bits gets to the right place at the right time.
“My focus is and has always been on human behavior and the drivers of human behavior,” he says. “I have worked in the corporate responsibility, sustainable development space for 20 years and have not just seen the space evolve, but have been an active participant in the shaping of this discipline. Essentially, CSR is about social investments, which require a return to the business and to society.”
Another experience Terry has drawn from tremendously when formulating strategies and partnerships is his experience in the global health and development world for NGOs. And, of course, he is also committed to ensure people are hearing the story of why a product like Little Bits is necessary.
“It’s key that we use this story to invite people to join us in this effort to fight childhood malnutrition - the more people involved, the better,” Terry says. “Equally time intensive is our external partnering. Daily we are working with our NGO partners all over the world to ensure that the product is where it needs to be, the communications and training is in place, and critical needs are being responded to.”
For more information on Amway’s Nutrilite brand, visit http://www.amway.com/nutrition/nutrilite
For more on Little Bits, visit http://nutrilite.com/littlebits/
Matthew Russell is the Project Editor for UIX Grand Rapids. Contact him at [email protected]
Photography courtesy of Amway