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Changing lives—without changing lifestyles

The clatter of tin plates and the sound of children laughing and teasing—it’s lunchtime at school in Hyderabad, India. Mounds of hot curry and rice fill kids’ plates.

Eight-year-old Mahalaxmi can’t tell that her school lunch is different today. But she knows that lately it’s easier to stay awake during class. Easier to remember what she needs to know for tomorrow’s test. And she feels more like playing with the other kids.

The difference is Ultra Rice®—a fortified pasta-like “grain” that mixes seamlessly with traditional rice and carries essential nutrients. In countries where deficiencies in iron, vitamin A, and other nutrients can leave kids worn down and vulnerable to sickness and disease, it’s critical.

Once, PATH’s Ultra Rice project was on the brink of closing down. Thanks to innovation funding—the type of support provided by people like you—the project was given a second chance. Today, iron-rich Ultra Rice grains are served in school lunch programs in India, with Brazil soon to follow.

Food that she can grow on

For Mahalaxmi, school lunch fills a dangerous gap in her diet. Dinner at home is rice and a tomato, enough for her to feel full, but not enough for her to grow on. More than 2 billion people worldwide suffer from a lack of micronutrients—such as iron, folic acid, zinc, and vitamin A—that are critical for young children to learn and grow.

Screen capture from video: two girls smiling into the camera

Ultra Rice holds enormous promise for children like Mahalaxmi and others you’ll meet in this video.

Rice is a staple for these kids, and for more than half the population in the developing world. One of the challenges to feeding children’s potential and boosting immune systems is finding a way to make staple foods do extra work.

Ultra Rice looks, cooks, and tastes like rice. It blends into people’s regular diets and can be tailored to a region’s specific nutritional needs. It can even be manufactured in the communities where it is served. That means it’s sustainable, a solution for the future, too.

Ultra Rice can save lives without changing lifestyles. It helps kids like Mahalaxmi not just survive, but thrive.

Sustaining support from innovation funding

Ultra Rice started as a partnership with the private sector on a promising new product: grind the broken grains left behind in the rice milling process into rice flour, add essential nutrients, and re-shape to match the local rice with which the grains will be blended.

Ultra Rice is reaching 60,000 kids through school lunch programs in India.

Three years ago, the project reached a critical point when its initial grant ran out. It took innovation funding, flexible support not tied to a major foundation grant, to keep our work going until another source of support came through.

Today, Ultra Rice is reaching 60,000 kids through school lunch programs in India, poised to reach millions. We’ve licensed the technology in Brazil, Colombia, and India, where it will be produced and used locally. In November 2009, Ultra Rice won the Tech Museum Innovation Award for Health, drawing national and international attention.

Making good nutrition a fact of life

Ideas like Ultra Rice require collaboration from many. But especially they rely on the commitment of people like you. Innovation funding from individuals is what allows us to pursue groundbreaking ideas and keep them going until they’re strong enough to go on their own.

You are the heart of innovation at PATH, helping us improve people’s health and lives every day.

Ultra Rice is a registered trademark of Bon Dente International, Inc. in the United States.

Photo: PATH/Satvir Malhotra.