Sunday, August 12, 2012

Meals for Millions

Clifford Clinton left the Army in 1944 and went to work for the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Agency (UNRRA). With the end of World War II in sight, Clifford, Nelda, and Clifton's public relarions director Ernest Chamberlain visited Cal Tech professor and biochemist Dr. Henry Borsook, who had done work on synthetic vitamins. Clifford hoped to develop a low-cost, nutritious subsistence meal for war-torn Europe.

This product had to provide 1/3 of daily nutrition in two ounces and "must not offend any religious dietary law," Cliff later wrote in his memoirs. It also needed to cost under five cents per meal, have a long shelf life, require no refridgeration, and taste good hot or cold.

Clinton provided a $5,000 retainer and Borsook began work. In less than a year, Borsook developed Multi-Purpose Food (MPF) -- a defatted soybean product with added multivitamins.

The development of MPF was the culmination of Clifford's lifelong goal of feeding underserved and needy people. The soy product still needed a distributor, so Clifford, son Edmond, and Chamberlain visited leading humanitarian advocates, agencies, and other hunger warriors.

He met with Pearl Buck, whose 1931 novel "The Good Earth" won the Pulitzer Prize for its description on life in China. He also met with first lady Eleanor Roosevelt, and cooked a sample of MPF for her.

In 1946, the three men formed Meals for Millions Foundation in donated space on the fourth floor of Clifton's Brookdale on Broadway St. in downtown Los Angeles. This became the headquarters dor distribution of MPF.