We’re now reaching 1,838,859 children with life-changing meals while they learn!

As schools began to close because of the pandemic, it was unclear how we could continue to bring vital daily meals to the children already relying on us. One year on, despite these challenges, we are celebrating welcoming more than 171,000 additional children to our global school feeding programme.

Back to all stories | Posted on 25 March 21 in News

This time last year, to keep our promise to the children already receiving Mary’s Meals, our hard-working teams and community volunteers put in huge efforts to adapt our school feeding model. Miraculously, through community distributions of take-home rations, we were able to ensure that the majority of children who would usually receive Mary’s Meals in school could continue to enjoy a daily meal while learning at home.

Perhaps even more amazing, though, is the fact that we have continued to reach the next child waiting for Mary’s Meals – welcoming 171,792 new children to the Mary’s Meals school feeding programme since the beginning of last year.

Expanding our Zambia programme in October and November brought nutritious school meals to more than 50,000 additional children in the country. We were also able to add more than 6,900 vulnerable children to the programme in Turkana (northern Kenya) from September, despite schools being closed at the time. Food was collected by their families at our community food distributions until schools reopened at the start of this year.

We also worked with our partner Feedback Madagascar to significantly expand their work with us. Together, we more than doubled the number of children receiving Mary’s Meals through this programme in the last year and now 25,460 schoolchildren in Madagascar are receiving Mary’s Meals (including from Ankarinomby Primary School seen in our video below).

These expansions, especially during a year of so many challenges, are incredible achievements and a real testament to the determination and dedication of our teams and partners to keep striving to provide hungry children with a daily meal in their place of education, whether that’s at school or at home.

Launching new partnership programmes in 2020 allowed us to increase capacity and serve even more vulnerable children. We were able to reach out to young people in our newest programme country, Niger, by beginning a second programme with our trusted partner Grandir Dignement – who we also work with in prisons in Madagascar. We are now providing daily meals for child prisoners at three remand centres in Niger’s largest cities: Niamey, Maradi, and Ziner. This is a lifeline for the many children, some as young as 13, who are being held for minor crimes like the theft of food and still awaiting trial.

During the height of the pandemic in Zimbabwe, we began working with a new partner, Mavambo Orphan Care, to provide take-home rations to more than 6,000 vulnerable children in the townships surrounding Harare, many of whom are HIV positive. And in Malawi, our longest-running and largest school feeding programme, we handed over delivery of a small part of our programme (providing meals to around 5,000 children) to MCSPA, an organisation that runs some of the schools we feed children in.

All these achievements have happened while navigating the ever-changing situation with school closures, implementing all necessary safety measures, and working closely with communities and governments to inform and encourage families on how to best prevent the spread of Covid-19.

This wonderful news – that now 1,838,859 children are enjoying daily meals in school and the chance to learn and thrive – has been made possible by the generosity of supporters all over the world and the many little acts of love carried out on behalf of Mary’s Meals. Each one takes us closer to a day when all children have enough to eat and are able to go to school.