Nebraska Soybean Farmers Meet Guatemalan Children Who Are Nourished by Nebraska Support of World Soy Foundation

February 12, 2010.....Saint Louis…Nearly 2000 miles from Saunders County, Nebraska, soy protein is helping Guatemalan foster children feel like running and playing. Nebraskans have made a difference for these girls through the World Soy Foundation, and a unique soy processing machine, called a “SoyCow.”

Nebraska soybean growers, Mark Caspers, Dennis Fujan and Bill Kremlacek, as well as Saunders County Extension Educator Keith Glewen traveled with the World Soy Foundation in January. The trip allowed them to meet the children and see how soy can make a lasting difference.

Mark Caspers with Guatemalen childMark Caspers visiting with a Guatemalan child during his recent trip to Central America with the WSF and other Nebraskan farmers.

"The World Soy Foundation applauds the leadership of Nebraska soybean growers and their organizations that made it possible for the World Soy Foundation to work with our partners in Guatemala," said World Soy Foundation Executive Director Nathan Ruby. "Thanks to these combined efforts, the girls receive soyfoods to improve their diets and much more. They are also getting nutrition training. Older girls are learning business skills through the sales and marketing of the extra foods produced by the SoyCow."

Saunders County soybean growers raised closed to $8,000, primarily from individual farmer contributions, to purchase and install a SoyCow; Nebraska Soybean Association President Debbie Borg helped kick start their campaign with a $200 check to the WSF. The Nebraska Soybean Checkoff Board contributed more than $6,000 in the form of a shipment of soybeans to Guatemala, as well as providing airfare for grower leaders to visit the project and see other soy related efforts in Guatemala.

Their combined efforts aided the World Soy Foundation in work with the Fundaninas nonprofit in Guatemala to get the soy protein program running in 2009. A Guatemalan based charity Fundacion Juan Bautista Gutierrez also contributed $2500.

"The Guatemalan economy is currently predominately of a subsistence nature, but being able to properly nourish the children will provide the next generation with the good minds and strong bodies needed to broaden the country's economic base," says Caspers of Auburn.

"We were looking for something that will help the children’s health and well being," says soybean grower Dennis Fujan of Prague. "This trip gave us a handle on what soy protein can do for them. You see kids running around having a good time and enjoying life."

Wahoo soybean farmer Bill Kremlacek calls the experience "eye-opening" and supports additional farmers being able to also go to Guatemala. "Farmers like to look back on their day and see what they accomplished. This trip allowed us to see the results. It was like a receipt for our contribution."

"This trip was the first time for me to witness the impact poverty has on diet and malnutrition," said Saunders County Extension Office Extension Educator Keith Glewen. "Many of us in the Midwest live in a bubble. I now have a better understanding of the complexity of addressing this problem. I also have a deeper appreciation for individuals, the corporate world and governments for their efforts to correct problems associated with malnutrition."

While in the Central American country, the Nebraskans also saw projects that the World Soy Foundation is helping fund with CARE, Cargill, Rotary International and pediatric organizations.

Guatemala has the fourth highest rate of chronic malnutrition in the world and the highest in Latin America, currently half of children under age 5. A drought is making malnutrition even more widespread in Guatemala this year, according to U.S. Embassy staff who briefed the farmer delegation.

Nebraska soybean growers and their peers across the nation were instrumental in creation of the World Soy Foundation, a 501c3 charitable organization headquartered at the American Soybean Association.

A SoyCow is a processing system that can grind and cook whole soybeans into soymilk, from which beverages, soya "cheese" (tofu), yogurt and other soyfoods can be made. One pound of dry soybeans makes approximately one gallon of soymilk or yogurt. The World Soy Foundation has funded some of the work done by the World Initiative for Soy in Human Health (WISHH) and the National Soybean Research Laboratory at the University of Illinois in multiple developing countries that use the SoyCows to produce foods for orphanages and still have food available to sell, making the operations economically sustainable.