Charity feeds thousands more despite Covid

Children from Ankarinomby Primary School in Madagascar celebrate Mary’s Meals feeding 1.8 million children.

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A charity that started life in a Dalmally shed is now feeding more than 1.8million children every school day in some of the world’s poorest countries.

Mary’s Meals, a global school feeding programme, is defying the challenges of the Covid pandemic to provide meals for 1,838,859 children in 19 countries across the world – including Zambia, Ethiopia and Madagascar.

Not only has the charity kept its promise to all the children already receiving its nutritious meals despite lockdown restrictions but it has also welcomed 171,792 new children since the beginning of 2020.

Over the past year the charity has expanded to reach more than 50,000 extra children in Zambia. It has also added more than 6,900 vulnerable children to its programme in Turkana in northern Kenya and doubled the number of children receiving Mary’s Meals in Madagascar.

Additionally, it has launched new partnership programmes in Niger, Zimbabwe and Malawi.

Working alongside communities, the charity is supported by an army of volunteers worldwide, including more than 80,000 in Malawi alone.

According to the charity, 59 million children are missing school because of poverty – working in fields instead, begging on street corners, or scavenging among the garbage just to survive. Millions more attend school so hungry that they are not able to concentrate and learn.

Mary’s Meals attracts children into the classroom with the guarantee of a daily meal.

When Covid-19 hit in early 2020 and schools began to close around the world, the charity made huge efforts to adapt its school feeding model, to make sure hungry children did not go without.

Volunteers started distributing food in communities for the children to eat at home. Some schools have since re-opened and the charity is now safely reaching 1.8 million children every school day, whether at school or at home.

Daniel Adams, executive director of Mary’s Meals, said: ‘The expansion of our programmes, especially during a year of considerable difficulties for us all, are a real testament to the determination and dedication of our teams, volunteers, partners and supporters, who keep striving to provide hungry children with a daily meal in their place of education, whether that’s at school or at home.

‘This year continues to bring its own challenges, including the ongoing uncertainty created by Covid-19 in the countries in which we work and the brutal conflict in Ethiopia, which has driven many people from their homes and has drastically increased hunger levels. There are so many children still waiting for Mary’s Meals around the world but we are confident in the innate goodness of all those who are part of this movement and whose efforts bring us closer to a day when all children have enough to eat and can go to school.’

A donation of £15.90 will feed a child for a whole school, go to marysmeals.org.uk