First Steps’ food-aid programs are currently providing protein-rich, growth-promoting soymilk to North Korean children (infants to primary school) who have not been receiving the nutrients so vital to their mental and physical development.
We are now (May 2010) reaching more than 80,000 children in orphanages, daycares and schools located in the cities of Nampo, Wonsan and Hyongjesan (see map), as well as at several co-operative farms.
For the past six years, we have been focusing on our VitaCow/VitaGoat program because of its great efficiency and effectiveness. One electrically-powered VitaCow machine, purchased and delivered to North Korea for about $7,000, processes soybeans into soymilk, enough to provide a cup each to more than 2,000 children per day. The non-electrical VitaGoat uses any burnable fuel, costs about $4,000 and produces enough soymilk for about 1,000 or more children per day.
We now have 42 VitaCows and 36 VitaGoats in operation.
First Steps buys some of its soybeans and has them shipped in to supply these machines when our North Korean partners are unable to provide their own. Our partners take responsibility for distribution of the beans to the VitaCow/VitaGoat sites, as well as for soymilk production and delivery.
First Steps purchases new stainless-steel milk cans in China to ensure the sanitary delivery of soymilk from the VitaCow production centres to their various institutional destinations in Nampo, Wonsan and Hyongjesan. First Step’s long-term goal is to keep expanding our operations to help reach thousands more North Korean children suffering from malnutrition and stunted growth.
Korean packaging of Sprinkles sachets
Sprinkles is the acclaimed micro-nutrient developed by Dr. Stanley Zlotkin at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children. It comes in a paper sachet and the powder is simply “sprinkled” on food, adding vital nutrients to help combat malnutrition and promote healthy growth. It has been widely tested and proven to be very effective. To date, First Steps has shipped 5-million sachets of Sprinkles to North Korea.