We all know the fairy tale of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Goldilocks comes across a quaint house in the woods with three bowls of porridge. Feeling hungry, she tries all three and settles on the third, which is just right – not too hot, not too cold.
This fairly tale is becoming a reality in Liberia, where PCI has been working since 2010 to reduce food insecurity. What do these three bowls look like there?
The First Porridge
For over 40 years, one of the main foods development programs have used to prevent malnutrition in women and children is Corn Soy Blend (CSB). Arriving as a powder, CSB is fortified with vitamins and minerals and is formulated to be high in protein and low in fat. PCI and other aid organizations train community members to mix the powder with water to make porridge. When prepared correctly, it’s an excellent nutritional supplement, but it’s not a long-term solution for communities to feed themselves.
The Second Porridge
Focused on long-term solutions, PCI works with communities in Liberia to grow their own food, both for consumption and sale. With the establishment of kitchen gardens, women began adding leafy greens, such as pumpkin leaves, to the CSB porridge. This increases the nutritional value of the porridge and can actually make it a fully nutritional meal, not just a supplement.
The Third Porridge
Realizing that the communities we partner with wanted better options, we worked with families and community leaders to take locally grown fruits and vegetables and create a nutritious, traditional meal. The recipes are now being refined and shared through women’s groups, who are excited to improve the health of their children and communities.
Beyond the nutritional aspects of this porridge, we realized two more benefits from this process. When you grow the ingredients in the communities that use them, it provides an opportunity for farmers growing these crops to improve their incomes (and the health of their families), and it improves the resilience, sustainability, and nutrition of those communities for decades to come.
Sustainable. Healthy. Just right.