GREENFIELD — Hunger and malnutrition kill more than 25,000 people a day worldwide, and one local company with a global reach is doing something to combat it both abroad and at home.

Greenfield-based Elanco, the animal health division of Eli Lilly and Co., is expanding and launching two new initiatives – one to provide livestock to developing countries and another to end hunger for children in central Indiana.

Elanco President Jeff Simmons made the announcement at a news conference Thursday, alongside Heifer International CEO Pierre Ferrari. Together, they announced a continuation and expansion of Elanco’s relationship with the nonprofit in a commitment to end hunger for 100,000 families globally.

“I believe that every child born in the world has two rights: to dream of a better future and to be fed,” Simmons said.

Elanco announced its third commitment to that effort – a donation of livestock to 800 families in the Hebei province of
China. Elanco began working with Heifer in 2008 and has since made commitments to assist more than 8,000 families in the Lampung province of Indonesia and the Copper Belt region of Zambia.

The families receive livestock and the training for how to care for the animals and use them to produce food. Part of the program is also a commitment to share the education with others in their communities and continue the cycle by giving the animals’ first-born females to other families. Ferrari said these types of operations provide resources to feed their own communities
and others, which will become increasingly important as populations rise.

“Small-holder farmers and the expertise that Heifer International has, in collaboration with Elanco, will be vital to solve (the problem of hunger),” Ferrari said.

The relationship with Heifer works toward one of Elanco’s primary goals of providing safe, affordable and quality food worldwide.

“It connects what we do day to day to reality,” Simmons said.

Simmons also said Elanco realizes that hunger is not just a problem overseas. Elanco is also working with a number of other local groups to make Indianapolis hunger-free for children by 2015.

“If there is a child in Indianapolis, food will be available,” Simmons said.

The program will begin by offering meals to children in parks through the Summer Food Service program and a “backsack” program to give kids food to take home for week
ends.

“Let’s not fool ourselves,” Simmons said. “This issue is not just far away, it’s here as well.”

So far, the program is targeted at Indianapolis alone, but Simmons said Elanco has a goal to bring its reach into Hancock County as well.

“The broader group of organizations is targeted for Indianapolis,” Simmons said, “but we’ve already gotten into conversations about surrounding counties. Elanco is going to take this model and focus here in Hancock County.”

Simmons did not have specific details or a time frame for when services will be available in the county.

Elanco’s hunger initiative is funded primarily through the Lilly Foundation. To learn more about how to feed a growing global population, visit www.plentytothinkabout.org.
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