Mary's Meals helps some of the world’s poorest children to attend school and work toward a brighter future, using a simple idea that works.
By providing a nutritious daily meal in school, Mary's Meals attracts chronically hungry children to the classroom where they receive an education that can be their route out of poverty in future.
The Scottish charity began feeding around 200 orphans in one Malawian primary school in 2002 and today, feeds more than 1.4 million children with a daily meal in school in 18 countries, including Liberia, Malawi, South Sudan, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Mary’s Meals’ vision is that every child receives one daily meal in their place of education. Nonetheless, with 61 million children still out of school worldwide, the charity believes that in many ways its work has just begun.
Thanks to the dedication of motivated, passionate volunteers, Mary’s Meals operates a low-cost approach and is committed to spending at least 93p of every £1 donated directly on charitable activities. In Malawi alone, more than 80,000 volunteers take turns to cook and serve the meals for the children; while hundreds more across the UK give their time to fundraise and spread the word about the charity’s work.
From hunger to happiness
Stella, a volunteer cook in Malawi, has noticed a difference in her community thanks to school feeding. She said:
"I have seen a big improvement in the children. They are looking healthy and are not malnourished anymore."
Her grandson, eight-year-old Peter, has suffered malnourishment in the past and is small for his age as a result. But today, thanks to the mug of likuni phala (maize porridge) he receives every day he attends school, Peter has boundless energy, an enormous smile, and big plans for the future.
"When I leave school, I want to be a security guard," he grins. "I am becoming healthy because I eat the porridge. Phala helps me to work hard in class."
Philip lives with his grandparents in a traditional mud-brick house with a thatched roof. Their home is immaculate. He proudly explains that it is his job to sweep the house and keep the yard area clean.
Like most families in this part of Malawi, Philip’s grandparents grow what food they can on a small piece of land. It is never enough and they scratch together a living by working in other people’s fields.
Philip’s parents have moved to the city in search of work but they come back to visit when they can.
While his grandparents are hard at work, Philip helps with household chores. He wakes long before the sun comes up to sweep and fetch water before heading off to school. He doesn’t eat before leaving home.
The mornings can be cold in Malawi so the steaming cup of porridge, served when the children arrive at school, is a great comfort which helps to warm and fill them before lessons begin.
“School is important because I can become intelligent,” Philip says. “I like to come to school early so I can get food. The phala makes me warm. My grades have improved because of the phala.”
When he gets home each evening, Philip lights a fire and heats water to prepare dinner for the family. Then he does his homework and finds time to play football with his friends before bed. It is a long and busy day for such a young boy, but the food provided by Mary’s Meals every school day gives him energy to learn and play.
Mary’s Meals is incredibly thankful for the support of players of People’s Postcode Lottery, which is supporting thousands of hungry children who will one day become the men and women who lift their communities out of poverty and end their reliance on aid.
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 www.marysmeals.org.uk or call 01838 200 605.