Stories about the people, power and promise of Project Peanut Butter
Project Peanut Butter
Spirit of Sierra Leone
One Million Kids
"I made a commitment to see that this advance actually becomes available to every child who needs it."
- Dr. Mark Manary
WHERE IT ALL BEGAN
Project Peanut Butter was founded by Mark Manary, M.D., a pediatrician who currently serves as the Helene Roberson Professor of Pediatrics at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri.
In 1985, Dr. Manary and his wife, Mardi Manary, first moved to Africa to work in a rural hospital in Tanzania. It was here that Dr. Manary realized the extent of malnutrition and the inadequacy of the former standard treatment.
The Manary family moved to Gambia and then New Guinea in the early 90s, where Dr. Manary continued to confront malnutrition.
From 1994 to 1999, Dr. Manary spent time in both Malawi and the United States working with malnourished children and studying the traditional method of treating malnutrition at the time, which consisted of hospital-based care and a milk-based formula.
He was dismayed to find that recovery rates for malnourished children were no better in 1999 than they were when he first worked in Africa in 1985; only about 25-40% of children recovered. He knew he had to come up with a better solution.
In 1999, Dr. Manary spent 10 weeks living in a village in Malawi, becoming familiar with the lives of rural Malawians and what an effective treatment of malnutrition needed to entail. He concluded that the therapeutic food had to be something that didn’t spoil, didn’t need to be cooked, was easy for mothers to give in small amounts to their children at home, and was energy dense.
Dr. Manary's early exploration of home-based therapy evolved into a successful, long-term collaboration with colleague Dr. André Briend, who worked with the World Health Organization, and Nutriset, a French company that produced early versions of Ready to Use Therapeutic Foods (RUTF).
From 2000 to 2004, the doctors and their small teams tested various formulas with thousands of malnourished children in a series of controlled clinical trials within Malawi. The results of these trials were striking: 95% of these children recovered! Compare that to the 25% to 40% who fully recovered using traditional hospital therapies, and as Dr. Manary said, "You don't need to be a statistician to know this is different and powerful."
Project Peanut Butter was officially founded and began producing food in Malawi in 2004. In 2007, the United Nations, World Health Organization, and World Food Programme recognized RUTF with home-based therapy as the standard of care for severely malnourished children worldwide.
Dr. Mark Manary
Founder and CEO. Dr. Manary currently serves as the Helene Roberson Professor of Pediatrics at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri. Dr. Manary has committed his life to solving the problem of child malnutrition. He devotes several months each year to overseeing RUTF production at Project Peanut Butter's factories in Africa and travels from village to village treating thousands of malnourished children.
In addition to his professorship in the United States, Dr. Manary also serves as a Senior Lecturer in Pediatrics at the Medical College of Malawi in Blantyre, Malawi. He has worked intensively in Africa for the past twenty years and has an extensive list of publications reflecting his commitment to developing treatments and preventions of malnutrition.
Dr. Manary received the 2007 World of Children Health Award, as well as the distinguished award of Academic Humanitarian Physician of the Year by the American Association of Medical Colleges for his outstanding work. Dr. Manary is a graduate of MIT and Washington University School of Medicine and currently resides in St. Louis, Missouri, with his wife.
Administrator. Mardi is also a Registered Nurse. She is Dr. Manary’s wife and has spent many years traveling and living with him in Africa.
Director of Communications.
Sara has worked in the St. Louis office since December 2017. She has an M.A. in Communication from Saint Louis University and a background working with local non-profits.