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DEVELOPMENT REPORT – May 27, 2002: Child Nutrition Program - 2002-05-24

This is the VOA Special English Development Report.

A new program has been launched to provide children in developing countries with more healthy foods.

Officials made the announcement this month during a three-day special conference on children at the United Nations.

The new program is called “Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition,” or GAIN. It aims to save at least two-thousand-million children around the world from health problems linked to the lack of healthy foods.

Eating foods that lack nutrients can lead to serious health problems. For example, when pregnant mothers do not get enough nutrients, their babies may be born with development problems. The baby’s brain might not grow to full size. A lack of important vitamins and minerals in food causes many serious health problems including blindness.

Many important people in both government and business are working on the GAIN program. They include the richest man in America, Bill Gates. He started Microsoft, the company that makes computer programs and operating systems. Two years ago, Mister Gates and his wife Melinda decided to use some of their money to create a private foundation in Seattle, Washington. The foundation is the biggest not-for-profit organization in the world, with twenty-four-thousand-million dollars.

The Gates Foundation will give fifty-million dollars over five years to the GAIN program. The money will be used to add vitamins and minerals to common foods, such as oil, flour and rice.

Several large American food companies are also involved in the program. They are Kraft Foods, Procter and Gamble, and H-J-Heinz. These companies manufacture food products that are sold around the world. Through GAIN, the companies will add extra vitamins and minerals to foods sold in poor nations. The companies will also provide governments and small food producers with technology to improve the nutritional value of foods eaten in local communities. Some of the added nutrients include iron, vitamin A, iodine and folic acid.

The World Health Organization, several other U-N agencies and the World Bank are involved in the GAIN project. So are the governments of Japan, Germany and the United States. Organizers say the program is an investment in the future and could save millions of lives.

This VOA Special English Development Report was written by Jill Moss.