A malnutrition-oriented project started by a Vanderbilt University professor and the founder of the Middle Tennessee-based Shalom Foundation has reached a milestone with the opening of a Central American supplementary food production facility.
According to a VU release, Ted Fischer (pictured), professor of anthropology and director of the Center for Latin American Studies, teamed with multiple Vanderbilt students over a five-year period on the project. Relatedly, Shalom head Steve Moore, a former Country Music Association CEO, worked with Fischer to found NutriPlus, a social enterprise effort that produces the supplement, Mani+.
The supplement (a fortified nut paste that provides calories, protein, fat, vitamins and minerals essential to brain development in babies and toddlers) is used to specifically address the nutritional deficiencies seen in Central American children. It is the first ready-to-use supplementary Food (RUSF) to be both locally produced and locally sourced in Guatemala City, Guatemala, creating local jobs and supporting local farmers.
The new facility opened on Sept. 23 and will eventually mass produce Mani+. Eventually, Fischer and Moore hope to produce 25 tons of Mani+ a month, reaching 25,000 children.
To recognize the opening of the facility, an event was held recently at the Instituto de Nutrición de Centro América y Panamá (INCAP). Senior health officials from Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Panama and the Dominican Republic attended, as well as prominent business and NGO leaders and representatives from the World Food Program.
Shalom Foundation’s Guatemala City pediatric clinic has strong ties to Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. The clinic houses the Vanderbilt Guatemala Research Station.
Regarding Mani+, Vanderbilt students helped develop financial and quality control models, an aflotoxin eradication plan for partner peanut farmers, and educational materials and packaging. They also conducted field research on peanut cultivation and Mani+ usage in the home. The paste itself was developed in partnership with food scientists at INCAP, which also donated the Mani+ production facility.
A 40-year longitudinal study by INCAP finds that the costs of childhood malnutrition are high and lasting.
“There’s a huge economic impact to malnutrition,” Fischer said in the release. “Kids don’t do as well in school, and we know from this data that they earn 40 percent less as adults than peers who were well-nourished. So to put it into a dollar figure, in Guatemala, that’s $300 million a year that malnutrition is costing this country.”
The most recent installments of the on-again, off-again series between Vanderbilt and Middle Tennessee State changed the nature of the regional rivalry.
The Blue Raiders’ victories in the last three matchups (2001, 2002 and 2005) make the intrigue of Saturday’s game at Floyd Stadium in Murfreesboro (6 p.m., CBS Sports Network) less an opportunity for them to show what they can do against an SEC opponent than it is a chance for the Commodores to show they won’t screw it up.
This is the first of four straight years in which these teams will play, which means it’s Vanderbilt’s chance to restore a sense of normalcy to the proceedings.
Three reasons to believe Vanderbilt will win Saturday
• Turnover time: The defense forced its first turnovers of the season with a pair of interceptions last Saturday at Ole Miss. Coaches and players like to say it because it’s true — takeaways tend to come in bunches. Now that the Commodores have gotten a couple, there is reason to think that more will follow in this game and others. Once players know they can make those sorts of plays, they tend to make them much more often.
• Go-to guy: Wide receiver Trent Sherfield has emerged as the primary target in the offense. After a record-setting performance against Austin Peay, he had a solid but unspectacular performance (seven receptions, 55 yards) against much stiffer competition at Ole Miss. MTSU falls somewhere between those two defenses on the talent scale, so there’s reason to think Sherfield will have some catches — and maybe even a big play or two.
• First rate on third down: Vanderbilt’s offense was 10-for-22 on third down against Ole Miss and the defense allowed three conversions in 13 attempts. Vanderbilt is second in the SEC in both third-down offense and defense and the defense is among the top 10 in the FBS. MTSU has relied on long drives this season and Vanderbilt can stop such drives with stops on third down.
Three reasons to believe Vanderbilt won’t win Saturday
• Father and son: MTSU coach Rick Stockstill made the somewhat surprising decision to go with his son Brent, a redshirt-freshman, as his starting quarterback this season. It is a move that has paid off for the Blue Raiders, who have one of the highest-scoring and most efficient offenses in the country. The younger Stockstill has completed roughly 70 percent of his passes and has spread the ball around to a bunch of different receivers.
• History lesson: None of the current players on either side had anything to do with it, but the Blue Raiders have won the last three meetings in the series. MTSU coaches need only to open up the history books or pull out some old game film to prove to their players it’s possible. Vanderbilt coaches can — and should — do the same to make sure their players, who already lost to one Conference USA team this season, are on high alert.
• Slow starters: Surprisingly for a team that has won just once in four games, Vanderbilt has scored first three times. The problem is that in each of those cases, the first points have come three at a time (field goals). MTSU has scored more than 70 points twice this season with some help from an opportunistic defense that can score in its own right. If the Commodores fall behind in this one, there's a chance they never catch up.
The bottom line
Vanderbilt has improved enough since the opener that it should win this game — provided it does not take a step backward.
The offense has not committed a turnover in the past two games. That has to continue because the Western Kentucky game showed what an equalizer — or a difference maker — those giveaways can be.
The defense has shown it can match up with prolific, up-tempo offenses. Ole Miss had a comparable scheme to MTSU but with better personnel, so last week’s game should serve as a good warm-up for this one.
There’s no doubt the Commodores have made significant strides in their second season under Derek Mason. Any chance for the results to reflect that improvement, though, will vanish if they don’t win this game.
Diane Neighbors will retire from Vanderbilt University after having worked 25 years at the school, most recently as director of the Vanderbilt Child and Family Center. The retirement (slated officially for Sept. 30) will come as Neighbors concludes her two terms as Nashville vice mayor.
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Vanderbilt Law School graduate Darren Robbins has made a gift to the social justice program at the school, which will now carry the name of the late George Barrett. Barrett — pictured here with Rita Geier, with whom he worked for more than three decades on desegregating Tennessee's state universities — was a 1957 VU Law graduate who was a partner at Barrett Johnston until his death at 86 a year ago.
As a result of this gift, the Social Justice Program, which is co-directed by professors Terry Maroney and Daniel Sharfstein, will support students and graduates pursuing social justice careers. It will provide competitive one-year public interest fellowships to Vanderbilt Law School graduates each year, fund a number of students doing public interest legal work in the summer, and serve as the hub of social justice activities at the law school, including programming throughout the school year and an annual public lecture.
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Vanderbilt University has tapped John M. Sloop as associate provost for digital learning.
According to a release, Sloop (pictured) will oversee the Vanderbilt Institute for Digital Learning and will focus on the development and implementation of school-based educational technology initiatives. In addition, he will provide oversight of campus partnerships and experimentation with Coursera and Blackboard, among other digital platforms.
Sloop joined the VU faculty in 1995 as assistant professor of communication studies and was later promoted to professor in 2000. He served during the 2014-15 academic year as the interim dean of the VU College of Arts and Science.
“We believe educational technologies are transforming how we teach, learn and conduct research and that innovation in this burgeoning area is critical to our continued evolution as a university,” said Cynthia Cyrus, vice provost for learning and residential affairs. “John’s proven leadership, honed during his years as senior associate dean and then interim dean of the College of Arts and Science, will be of great benefit to our efforts in this area, and I’m grateful for his willingness to take on this new role.”
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