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What are Humanitarian Daily Rations?

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 7, 2001 – In addition to attacking the Taliban regime and terrorist facilities in Afghanistan today, U.S. air operations include the delivery of some 37,000 Humanitarian Daily Rations to Afghan refugees.

The daily ration was specifically designed by the Defense Department for use in emergencies to feed and sustain moderately malnourished people until more traditional feeding methods are restored.

The meals are nutritious, culturally sensitive and cost- effective and have been praised by the United Nations and the international relief community. Since their first use in 1993, they have emerged as a significant and lasting contributor to the fight against hunger.

The rations are pre-packaged, ready-to-eat foods that provide an entire day's nutritional requirements. Each ration packet contains two main vegetarian meals based heavily on lentils, beans and rice, and also complementary items like bread, a fruit bar, a fortified biscuit, peanut butter and spices. Beans with tomatoes, beans and rice, and bean salad are entrees among the five available menus.

Humanitarian rations come in bright yellow packaging for easy identification on the ground when air-dropped. They "float" down to populations with no parachutes. The packets are marked with the words, "A Food Gift From the People of the United States of America," and include illustrations depicting how to eat the foods.

Providing about 2,200 calories, each ration packet costs about $4 and has a shelf life of 18 to 24 months.

Hundreds of thousands of the rations were first air-dropped over isolated Bosnian enclaves on Nov. 22, 1993, as part of the humanitarian relief effort Operation Provide Promise. Since then, more than 8 million of the rations have been distributed to refugees worldwide, including in Iraq, Cuba, Bosnia, Rwanda and Haiti.

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageA typical Humanitarian Daily Ration packet. The yellow, plastic pack is designed to "float" to the ground once dropped by transport aircraft. The packet contains meals that can be eaten by virtually anyone, regardless of culture or religion. The United States began delivering 37,000 rations to Afghan refugees Oct. 7, 2001.   
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