INDIANAPOLIS - The Indianapolis-based Global Orphan Foundation has a bold mission -- to care for the world's most vulnerable children -- and is turning to a protein source unusual to the western world. The organization is on the ground in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to implement an easy-to-use system of raising vitamin, protein and micronutrient-packed palm weevil larvae to feed the orphans. Executive Director Nicole Brandt tells Barbara Lewis in The Business of Health the insect is typically a delicacy in central Africa and "no one has really farmed it before." The farming cycle, for which the organization has created a process and training program, yields a new crop of edible insects in about a month and uses plastic storage bins and split sugar cane.

The Congo has a total population of about 70 million and 5 million orphan children. Brandt says the government doesn't provide support to orphanages and she says there's little community support, either, leaving these children "at the bottom of the food chain" in a nation that Brandt calls one of the most difficult for a support agency to work in.

The Global Orphan Foundation is continually studying and refining its training and assistance programs, working with local nutritional experts and is also gathering data on how the protein source is affecting the health of the orphans.

Brandt describes the flavor of the critters after they've been sauteed as similar to breakfast sausage. You can connect to more about the program and the organization by clicking here. Leaders from the nonprofit just completed participation at the Global Food Insecurity Conference in South Africa.