In 2007 Vitamin Angels launched Operation 20/20, a program aimed at eradicating vitamin A-deficiency blindness in children by 2020.
The Health First Network, a group of Canada’s leading independent health and wellness retailers, proudly supports the work of Vitamin Angels in the fight against childhood blindness and malnutrition.
If it takes a village to raise a child, it took the 1994 Northridge earthquake to shake up Californian Howard Schiffer’s life. Schiffer, former midwife turned health product businessman, jumped at the request to supply vitamins for victims in the Northridge area following the quake.
It occurred to him he could do the same for children and adults in developing countries who suffer from malnutrition. Out of that realization grew Vitamin Angels, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supplying vitamin supplements to impoverished communities worldwide.
Providing nutrients to malnourished children is a foundation strategy, Schiffer says. It’s an intervention that improves the lives of children, so they are healthy enough to attend school, get an education, and eventually pull themselves out of poverty.
Vitamins without Borders
In the last 14 years Vitamin Angels has developed children’s nutrition programs and maternal health programs, and taken part in disaster relief, supplying supplements to victims of the Indonesian tsunami and Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. It has shipped nutrients to people living with profound poverty in over 80 countries including India, Tibet, the Dominican Republic, and Honduras.
By partnering with nongovernmental organizations already working in a country, Vitamin Angels streamlines administrative costs. This efficient method of operating has earned Vitamin Angels top ratings by Charity Navigator, a website dedicated to evaluating the financial health of charity organizations.
In 2007 Vitamin Angels launched Operation 20/20, a program aimed at eradicating vitamin A-deficiency blindness in children by 2020. The effort focuses on hard-to-reach rural children, as well as infants under one year of age.
Schiffer is passionate about Operation 20/20. Vitamin A-deficiency blindness “is not something that’s going to take billions of dollars and decades to find a cure for,” he says. “We know what the cure is. We have a solution. I have it on the desk in front of me. It’s vitamin A.”
Operation 20/20 also provides children with an antiparasitic medication to ward off intestinal infection and ensure proper absorption of vitamin A, which is vital for good vision.
The importance of Operation 20/20 was recently validated by the Copenhagen Consensus (CC), an international organization that seeks solutions to global problems. The CC stated the world’s best investment is vitamins, specifically vitamin A and zinc, for malnourished children under age five. For every dollar spent on vitamins, future benefits would amount to over $17 because of better health, fewer deaths, and increased earning potential.
Decide to Make a Difference
Malnutrition is such an enormous problem that an average person may feel there is nothing he or she can do to help, yet even a small contribution makes a big difference. “Whether you donate a quarter or a thousand dollars, it’s the decision to help that’s the most important thing,” says Schiffer. “That decision is what’s critical.”
Another way to make a difference, he says, is by supporting businesses that contribute to Vitamin Angels. In Canada the Health First Network, a chain of 110 health product retailers, has raised $42,000 for the charity–making a difference in the lives of close to 168,000 children.
Health First Network CEO Dave Freeman is glad to be able to help. He says, “Our association with Vitamin Angels has enabled us to raise funds and awareness for a great cause, and we’ve been able to allow our member stores to reach people in their local market–to address the kind of Third World issues we see on TV everyday but too often feel powerless to help.”
From November 14 until Christmas, Health First Network will donate $1 from the purchase of each item marked with the angel symbol to Vitamin Angels. To find a participating store near you, see healthfirst.ca.
Almost 15 years after the Northridge shakeup, Howard Schiffer and Vitamin Angels continue to make a huge difference in the lives of malnourished children and families. They’ve demonstrated that sometimes a simple strategy can make a large impact on a complex problem. For more information about Vitamin Angels, visit vitaminangels.org.
Each dollar that Health First Network retailers donate to Vitamin Angels adds up to positive change.
- 25 cents can save a child from going blind
- $250 can save a small village
- $10,000 can save a school district
- $25,000 can save a city
- $50,000 can save a state
- $250,000 can save a country
–Source: Vitamin Angels
Vitamin a Fact
- It’s essential for maintaining good vision, normal growth of bones and teeth, healthy skin, and a healthy immune system.
- It comes in three forms: retinol, beta carotene, and carotenoids.
- Retinol is found in animal food sources such as liver, milk, and egg yolk.
- Beta carotene and the carotenoids are found in leafy greens and members of the yellow-orange vegetable family, such as sweet potatoes, squash, apricots, and cantaloupe.
- Our bodies can store up to a year’s worth of vitamin A, so in North America deficiency is rare.
Stock Up Now
One dollar from each purchase of participating products will be donated to Vitamin Angels.
- Vitamin solutions and supplements
- Supplements for mood and menopause
- Kids’ chewable supplements
- Herbal cold care liquid