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Public Relations Students Fight Global Childhood Malnutrition

Malnutrition in adolescents and adults in poorer countries around the world is a problem that most people of Western culture are aware of. Lack of nutrients, access to clean food and water, and unfavorable laws and regulations all contribute to this ongoing global issue. Four public relations students, Kimberly DeLande, Kylie Rice, David St. Amant, and Sergio Suhett, are taking part in an independent study to collaborate with Edesia, an innovative non-profit organization located in Providence, to spread awareness about childhood malnutrition and raise funds for children in need.

In addition to its efforts to spread awareness about this global issue, Edesia manufactures a product called Plumpy’nut, a vitamin-packed peanut-butter blend that is distributed to mothers of malnourished children. The Plumpy’nut is distributed to more than 40 countries with the help of Unicef and the World Health Organization. A child who consumes daily servings of the Plumpy’nut for one month will move from a malnourished to healthy state.

Rice created the blueprint for this campaign last semester and with the help of Katie O’Malley, an editor in publications and creative services at URI, and Regina Bell, a lecturer in public relations at the Harrington School of Communication and Media, the campaign was born. Bell reached out to executives at Edesia who showed great interest in a collaboration.

The four students have created a social media challenge with a St. Patrick’s Day theme using the hashtag #MakeYourGreenCount. By frequently posting on social media, they hope to share information about global malnutrition and encourage people to raise money. The goal is to raise as much money as possible during the month of March. As stated in the commercial video, just one box of Plumpy’nut can save a child’s life. The Make Your Green Count campaign asks people to donate $5 and then encourage ten friends via social media to each donate $5 for a grand total of $55, or the price of one box.

Monday, March 2, 2015 marked the date of the first Make Your Green Count event. The four students set up a table in the Memorial Union and encouraged people to dress in green and take photos at the photo booth to spread awareness about Edesia and the Plumpy’nut. This event was a successful launch to this fast-moving social media campaign.

David St. Amant (pictured above) sees great importance in this collaboration on a personal and global level. “Working on this campaign is different than anything I have done in my public relations classes. It is a real world experience and I am learning a lot from all the work and time I have put into this. It is such a pressing global issue, so our main goal is to raise awareness about childhood malnutrition. But, if we can raise some money, too, that would be amazing.”

The students have created a Facebook page, Twitter account, and Instagram account. They have also created a fundraising page. So far, this campaign has raised $3,000 of its’ $10,000 goal. Please join the effort in raising awareness about global childhood malnutrition and raise funds to continue making the Plumpy’nut for children in need.

Sabrina is a senior at URI studying public relations. She is originally from MA but has found a home in the Ocean State. A peer mentor, sister of Kappa Delta sorority, and HC Campus Correspondent at URI, she loves being involved on campus. If she could describe herself in a few words, she would say she's a driven individual with a huge heart who's obsessed with all things fashion, music, and adventurous.
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