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Activist Works to Help Ease Haiti’s Hunger Crisis

As global food prices continue to rise, hunger in Haiti has fueled food riots and driven much of the population, including many children, to the brink of starvation. Correspondent Fred de Sam Lazaro reports on one man's effort to alleviate the crisis.

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  • FRED DE SAM LAZARO:

    Each weekday morning, in this missionary school in rural Haiti, the gates open to a stampede of small feet.

    The kids come in for what will likely be their only substantial meal of the day.

    A few quietly save a portion, usually for a younger sibling who could not get here.

    In Haiti, anywhere from 25 percent to 40 percent of children suffer chronic malnutrition.

    Occasionally, an adult, like Emma Marisu, is invited in. She was taking the first steps to heal her 2-year-old twins, their bodies swollen and emaciated by hunger.

    Another occasional visitor at these mealtimes is a 79-year-old social entrepreneur from Minnesota who is responsible for the food on these tables.

    Richard Proudfit's Kids Against Hunger will deliver 40 million meals this year and, he hopes, 80 million next year in 38 countries. The ABC of good learning is a good meal, he says.

    RICHARD PROUDFIT, founder, Kids Against Hunger: God has called me to do — feed starving children. I have to do that first. And then, when we activate their body, then they can learn to do other things.

  • FRED DE SAM LAZARO:

    His calling came long before he retired from a successful business career, long before a stroke that can distort his speech.

    It all began in 1974, when he volunteered in Honduras after Hurricane Fifi.

  • RICHARD PROUDFIT:

    The children, they were literally dying all around me. And the mother was carrying, and they were dying right in their arms. And I said, I have to come back to Minnesota, and see what can I do.

  • FRED DE SAM LAZARO:

    He launched feeding programs soon after selling his plastics businesses in the mid-1908s.

    In the beginning, he bought wholesale quantities of things typically found on American grocery shelves, like Twinkies and granola.

  • RICHARD PROUDFIT:

    I took 15 tons of food to India, and my kids were throwing up on me, because it was too powerful.

    They were coming from zero, way up. So, I went I met with Cargill, they said, calm it down, and it will accept the children over all the world.

  • FRED DE SAM LAZARO:

    So, finding the right diet took a lot of trial and error, then?

  • RICHARD PROUDFIT:

    Oh, it took three years, three years.

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