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Lilly's animal health division plans to spend $2 million over the next two years for hunger relief efforts in Third World countries and to expand food "backsack" programs for needy children in Indianapolis.
The moves are part of a hunger initiative begun two years ago by Elanco Animal Health in an effort to raise awareness about world hunger.
Elanco, which makes feed additives and antibiotics for farm animals and medicines for pets, said more than 25,000 people worldwide die each year from hunger and malnutrition.
For the past two years, Elanco has been working in partnership with Heifer International, a nonprofit group that aims to lift families out of poverty and hunger through gifts of livestock, seeds and trees and extensive training in animal husbandry and health care.
Heifer's model is built on recipients passing along their animal's first female offspring to other community members.
"It's not just dropping off bags of corn or meat," said Jeff Simmons, Elanco president and senior vice president of Eli Lilly and Co. "This is a model of a sustainable program that will help families for many years."
In 2009, Elanco began a five-year project with Heifer in Indonesia that aims to provide 2,100 families with cattle, ducks, plants and trees. Last year, Elanco focused on Zambia in a project that it says will ultimately help 6,210 families.
Now the two organizations are planning to work together in Hebei province in China, delivering livestock and training to about 800 families there.
Elanco said it aims to end hunger for 100,000 families globally by 2025 through its partnership with Heifer.
In addition to the $2 million gift over two years, Elanco said its employees have donated $200,000 in recent years to Heifer, which includes a Lilly Foundation match for U.S. employees.
Lilly plans to send an unspecified number of veterinarians and animal husbandry specialists to the regions to help train families.
In Indianapolis, Lilly is helping to form the Childhood Hunger Initiative, a program involving Gleaners and other nonprofit hunger-relief agencies. The program aims to expand the "backsack" program to give thousands of needy children nutritious food for weekends.
The initiative also includes "Summer Servings," a program announced last month that provides free meals to children in low-income areas during the summer. The program is advertised on 25 billboards across the city.