Mary’s Meals is based on a simple idea that works.
By providing a nutritious daily meal in school, Mary’s Meals attracts desperately hungry children into the classroom, giving them the energy to learn and hope for a better future.
The Scotland-based charity began serving meals to 200 children in a Malawian primary school in 2002. Today it feeds more than 2.4 million children with a daily meal in 18 countries, including Ethiopia, India, Liberia, Kenya, Malawi, Syria, South Sudan, and Zimbabwe.
With 67 million primary-age school children out of school around the world, the charity believes that in many ways its work has just begun.
In Turkana, a region in northern Kenya, the charity recently expanded its work, reaching an additional 60,000 children in primary schools.
These meals are a lifeline for children in the area which is experiencing its worst drought in 40 years after four failed rainy seasons and ultra low-yield harvests.
At Kakore school, Epur, 12, is singing along with the other children. Her education has been interrupted by many hardships. It was only when Mary’s Meals began to serve its daily meal of maize and beans that her family could send Epur back to class.
Her father, Ezekiel, hopes she will become a doctor or a politician, but she has other ideas. She says: “I want to be a teacher. I want to work in a school like this and help children like me to learn.”
The family know that education is the best route out of poverty. One of Epur’s sisters has become an engineer and the determination that Epur can also carve out a better life is clear, despite the challenges they face. “I pray we can find a way, and she will succeed like her sister,” Ezekiel says.
Mary’s Meals has been feeding young children at early childhood development and education centres (ECDEs) in Kenya since 2005.
Working in close consultation with the Kenyan Ministry of Education and local communities, it has been able to expand to feed children in primary schools.
Amina Swedi, country director for Mary’s Meals Kenya, says: “Right now, the global acute malnutrition rate is at 15%, but in Turkana it is much higher. When I see it [hunger] through the eyes of Turkana, it has given me a whole perspective about what hunger means. It’s not a matter of just missing one meal…it’s a matter of life and death.
“The biggest impact of the programme is going to be happiness, the smiling! Children’s faces, you’ll be able to see it. You will see hope on their faces once they start receiving this meal, and they see it’s consistent.”
Mary's Meals is committed to keeping its running costs low and at least 93p of every £1 donated is spent directly on charitable activities. It costs the charity just £19.15 to feed a child for a whole school year.
You can help the world's poorest communities build a better future. Please help to spread the word to feed as many hungry children as possible in school with Mary's Meals. For more information, visit marysmeals.org.uk or call 0800 698 1212.