Volunteers Sharing Food Technology  
Sustain’s Volunteers – Expertise In Food Technology Can Reduce Malnutrition And Poverty

Poverty and poor access to safe, affordable, and nutritious foods compromise the well-being and productive potential of many of the world's people. Chronic hunger and malnutrition have serious consequences: up to one-fifth of deaths and disabilities worldwide are attributed to undernutrition. Food-borne diseases also take significant tolls. Of the world's three million children who die each year of diarrhea, approximately 70% are sickened by contaminated food or water.

The challenge for the international aid community is to help developing countries improve their populations' access to safer and more nutritious diets on a consistent basis. Good nutrition helps people to reach their full physical and intellectual capacities, to learn better, and to perform better on jobs. Thus, it offers a powerful antidote to poverty and feeds economic development.

Advances in food technology underlie significant improvements in nutrition and food safety. SUSTAIN began operating as a volunteer-based initiative to share U.S. food science, technology, and expertise with developing country food industries striving to provide customers with healthier, safer and more nutritious food products. SUSTAIN actively recruited executives and technical specialists from U.S. food companies, universities and scientific and professional organizations who were willing to do its important work on a pro bono basis.

SUSTAIN also benefits from the generosity of individuals and firms that contribute professional services on a pro-bono basis. These resources – in areas such as legal counsel, web design, and communications -- help SUSTAIN fulfill its organizational goals.

SUSTAIN volunteers have provided:

Technical Assessments: SUSTAIN volunteers performed technical assessments of food industries thought to have the potential to significantly improve food quality and nutrition for local populations. These assessments have formed the basis for SUSTAIN projects and activities around the world.

Technical Assistance: SUSTAIN volunteers have worked with local food businesses to solve specific food technology challenges, addressing food quality, nutrient content, shelf-life and food safety. Frequently, volunteers combine these consultations with workshops on specialized topics.

Training: SUSTAIN volunteers have conducted workshops in developing countries to provide training in specialized topics to groups that typically include food industry representatives, laboratory and government personnel, non-profits and trade organizations. Topics have been based on requests from developing countries and on recommendations from SUSTAIN assessments. However, workshop leaders determined course material and content.

Institutional Services to SUSTAIN: Some volunteers help SUSTAIN by contributing professional services. These volunteers provide a wide variety of pro bono professional services including legal advice and aid, accounting expertise, web design, public relations and other assistance, which augments the organization’s ability to fulfill project goals.

Help from SUSTAIN volunteers has allowed developing country food industries to develop better and safer products, to limit food waste, and to extend food availability through improved processing, storage and preservation technologies. SUSTAIN's focus on improvements in food technology builds on the existing basis of most developing country economies--agriculture--and benefits consumers by helping to improve the nutritional quality and safety of processed foods. SUSTAIN volunteers have provided an important bridge between food industries and the nutritional needs and concerns of the populations they serve.

By bringing personalized technical assistance directly to food industry counterparts in developing countries, SUSTAIN volunteers have served several broad goals with potential long-term benefits to the health and well-being of developing country populations:

- combating malnutrition and the debilitating effects of micronutrient deficiencies;

- reducing the incidence of food-borne diseases;

- creating economic opportunities and jobs in developing country food sectors;

For year by year details of these activities click here.