Illinois soy making a difference in Haiti

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record

The earthquake in Haiti one year ago yesterday killed, injured or left homeless more than 2.5 million people -- nearly the equivalent to the population of Chicago. And while the road to recovery remains long, the use of Illinois soy, with support from the soybean checkoff, is a success story in the island nation.

“Soy protein has been especially important to hundreds of Haitian school children and others this past year,” says Pat Dumoulin, soybean farmer from Hampshire, and Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) director who serves on the World Initiative for Soy in Human Health (WISHH) program committee.  “The future for soy protein use in Haiti grows even stronger as they rebuild their economy and improve the nutrition for their eight million people.”

ISA has supported WISHH and National Soybean Research Laboratory (NSRL) at the University of Illinois activities in Haiti for more than five years.  Dumoulin adds that such efforts have provided the foundation for soy to benefit the Haitian people during crises and that the existing partnerships have strengthened as Haiti works to use soy protein to create economic growth.

ISA, together with NSRL and WISHH, has been involved with activities on many fronts:

• Shortly after the earthquake, ISA shipped dehydrated soup mixes containing Textured Soy Protein (TSP) to Haiti. Haiti’s National School Lunch Program (PNCS) distributed the more than 970,000 servings through its feeding centers for earthquake victims, an orphanage and a program for people living with HIV/AIDS.

• The Caroline Chauveau Girls School in Port-au-Prince has fed more than 300 students a soy-enhanced, midday meal since November 2009. The earthquake damaged the school. None of the students, teachers or staff were injured. Use of soy in school meals resumed shortly after the earthquake and continues today.

• To respond to great interest in developing local food processing, NSRL facilitated a workshop for Haitian entrepreneurs, local government officials, non-governmental organizations and academia to learn about how soy can add value to local foods.

• NSRL is working with the State University of Haiti and Ministry of Health to develop a soy dairy training center.

“Haiti is a very important neighbor, and a country to which we are committed to providing support for developing nutrition solutions, especially as they relate to soy products,” says Bridget Owen, NSRL associate director. “There is still much to be done.”

ISA is the statewide organization for Illinois soybean farmers. The farmers on its board administer legislative and membership programs and also administer soybean checkoff funds to support research, market development, promotions and educational programs designed to increase demand for Illinois soybeans. Contact ISA at 309-663-7692, or visit