A Sunflower Garden in the Russell Rotunda: Celebrating U.S. Leadership in the Fight Against Global Malnutrition

ECF Team

On Wednesday, October 18, the Eleanor Crook Foundation (ECF) was honored to partner with Kyle House Group to co-host “A Hope Garden,” an art installation and celebratory event in the rotunda of the Russell Senate Building in Washington, D.C.

“A Hope Garden” celebrated last year’s bold U.S. leadership in combating global child malnutrition and featured a display of 73 sunflowers standing tall in the center of the rotunda. The installation also highlighted the remarkable “before and after” stories of three children from Ethiopia, Somalia, and Yemen who received treatment for severe wasting — the most deadly form of malnutrition — as a result of the historic $577 million raised in 2022 to address the global malnutrition crisis.

Both passersby and policymakers were struck by the appearance of a field of sunflowers in the Rotunda – which prompted many to ask: why sunflowers?

73 sunflowers standing tall in the rotunda to represent the 7.3 million children who were treated for severe wasting

Sunflowers are a symbol of hope and resilience. Each sunflower in the rotunda represented 100,000 children who received life-saving care as a result of the 2022 funding, which included a historic investment in Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF). As a result of this increased funding, UNICEF reported its largest malnutrition response on record, reaching 7.3 million severely wasted children with RUTF – 35% more than the year prior. And this is why the installation was called “A Hope Garden.” Because child death from malnutrition is a problem we can solve. Children strive for the light, just as sunflowers do – and children inspire us to strive for the light, too.

A reception followed the installation and brought together esteemed leaders from the U.S. Congress, policymakers, NGOs, industry, ECF partners and members of the larger malnutrition community. Our CEO, William Moore, shared remarks about the tremendous momentum driven by U.S. leadership and the remarkable success rate of RUTF in treating child wasting. He also spoke about the additional annual cost it would take to end malnutrition: $950 million, the equivalent of the operating costs of one U.S. hospital for just six months. We also heard from U.S. Representatives Jim Baird and Earl Blumenauer, USAID’s Sarah Charles, and Senator John Boozman, who, along with our CEO, reflected on the critical need to work together to sustain leadership in the fight to end malnutrition. As Will said, “When the U.S. acts, precious lives around the world are saved. There are leaders in this room who want to act – and who want to be the ones who usher in this new world: one where children finally do not starve to death.”

A special thanks to Senator Chris Coons and Kyle House Group for co-hosting the event, and for their commitment to ending global malnutrition. We are also grateful to House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul, House Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Rosa DeLauro, and Representative Joaquin Castro for their time visiting the installation.

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