Photo Credit Jan Garrison
Amaranth bar benefits ECHO
November 30, 2017

Culver Girls Academy has been raising funds and awareness about the AIDS crisis in sub-Saharan Africa since 2004 with the formation of the Leadership Committee for Africa. The AIDS fight has evolved over the years and so has LCA’s focus.

Now, the organization has raised the bar – actually a custom-made chocolate bar – to help battle the disease and the malnutrition that feeds it.

With Dec. 1 recognized as World AIDS Day. Hannah Luo ’19 (Canton, Michigan) and Janelle Li ’19 (Saratoga, California), co-chairs of LCA’s research and education committee, recently made a presentation to students to remind everyone the toll the disease is still taking.

  • More than 36.7 million people are living with HIV today.
  • 205 people become infected every hour.
  • 66 percent of the world’s HIV-positive people are in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • 40 percent of the people with AIDS are unaware of their condition.

The biggest problem facing the African people is the combination of AIDS and hunger, they said. Malnourished people are six times more likely to die when on AIDS medication than those with good nutrition. This makes proper nutrition a key component of AIDS alleviation, which is why the disease is such a serious issue in developing countries.

One of the grains – actually a seed – that can help combat the hunger crisis is Amaranth. The seeds, though, are not commercially viable because they are so small they need to be harvested by hand. But the drought-resistant plant is an ideal crop for small farmers and families in the arid regions of Africa. And it includes the most complete protein of any grain.

Through the years, LCA has hosted agricultural experts to hear about the plant; conducted tasting sessions of foods made with Amaranth flour; and worked with the late Dick Dugger in growing it on his Burr Oak farm, just a short distance from campus.

Now, LCA has joined with the Ron Rubin School for the Entrepreneur to sell a special peanut butter chocolate Amaranth bar at the Rubin Café, Li said. Called PB Chocomaranth, the bar sells for $3 with the proceeds going to ECHO (Educational Concerns for Hunger Organizations), a worldwide food security non-profit started by Dugger in North Fort Myers, Florida. The bar is manufactured by Davis Chocolate in nearby Mishawaka, Indiana. The bar contains five grams of protein.

The chocolate bar is the latest in a series of LCA funding campaigns that have raised more than $47,000 for several organizations working on the AIDS crisis in Africa. Chief among those are the Amani Children’s Foundation, which houses and finds permanent families for infants orphaned or abandoned by parents with AIDS; Christel House South Africa (a school established to break the cycle of poverty through education); and ECHO. CGA students have also gone to Cape Town, South Africa, to visit Christel House six times on the Global Pathways Spring trips.

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