Poor complementary feeding practices and low quality complementary foods are significant causes of growth faltering and child mortality throughout the developing world. Ready-to-use foods (RUF) are energy dense, lipid-based products that do not require cooking or refrigeration, that have been used to prevent and treat malnutrition among vulnerable children. The effectiveness of these products in improving child nutritional status depends on household use by caregivers. To identify the key facilitators and barriers that influence appropriate in-home RUF consumption by supplemental feeding program beneficiaries, we conducted individual interviews among caregivers (n=80), RUF producers (n=8) and program staff (n=10) involved in the Byokulia Bisemeye mu Bantu (BBB) supplemental feeding program in Bundibugyo, Uganda. By documenting caregiver perceptions and feeding practices related to RUF, we developed a conceptual framework of factors that affect appropriate feeding with RUF. Findings suggest that locally produced RUF is well received by caregivers and children, and is perceived by caregivers and the community to be a healthy supplemental food for malnourished children. However, child feeding practices, including sharing of RUF within households, compromise the nutrient delivery to the intended child. Interventions and educational messages informed by this study can help to improve RUF delivery to targeted beneficiaries.
Keywords: Complementary Feeding, Cultural Context, Ethnographic Methods, Undernutrition, Nutritional Interventions, Food Intake