Five interesting facts you might not know about our work in Zambia

Our comms officer meets pupils in Zambia and learns of the power of porridge.

Mary Stokes
Mary Stokes
Communications officer, Malawi

Back to all stories | Posted on 17 May 18 in Zoom Into Zambia

“Life is hard these days if you’re not educated, that’s why school is important to me.” 

These wise words were spoken to me by fifteen-year-old Christopher. If it wasn’t for education, he would see few opportunities for a brighter future in the rural area of Zambia where he lives.

It is very difficult to learn if you’re hungry. That’s why, since 2014, Mary’s Meals has provided a nutritious mug of porridge to hungry learners at school.

Here are five things you might not know about our programme in Zambia...

1. Zambia was the 12th country to receive Mary’s Meals.
The programme began in October 2014 in 25 schools in Chipata, the capital city of Eastern Province, which borders our biggest programme country, Malawi.  

These cheeky chappies go to school in Mambwe district, which began receiving Mary’s Meals in 2016. For their headteacher, Gracian, the feeding programme is having a positive impact on life at the school.   

“Pupils often come hungry from home. Having porridge at school is helping their health and reducing absenteeism. Now, they prefer to be at school than at home.”

2. We feed 75,655 pupils every school day in Zambia.
Since 2014, the programme in Zambia has expanded rapidly. Today, 132 primary schools in the Eastern Province proudly serve Mary’s Meals every school day reaching the youngest nursery students up to those preparing to sit their Grade 9 exams.  

3. Students receive phala, just like in Malawi!
This nutritious mix of soya and maize based porridge is fortified with the essential vitamins and minerals that a student needs to grow and thrive, both in and out of the classroom.

4. The first new schools to serve Mary’s Meals this year are in Zambia!

With the start of the new school year in February, 34 schools prepared pots of porridge for their students for the very first time. Sixteen of these schools are in Mambwe district, which is one of the poorest in the Eastern Province.

5. Just like in Malawi, we depend on dedicated volunteers.


At every school in Zambia, I met committed volunteers like 68-year-old Joseph, who has been a PTA committee member since the programme began at his school in 2016. 

Since his two grandchildren began receiving Mary’s Meals, he’s noticed their health improve as well as their grades.  

“I stopped coming to school in Grade 2. I want my grandchildren to be educated so they can have a bright future. This programme is giving them that opportunity.”