Mary’s Meals normally provides one good meal every school day for hungry children living in 19 countries around the world. The promise of these meals attracts children to the classroom, where they can gain an education and grow up well-nourished and well-educated to become the men and women who will lift their communities out of poverty.
When schools around the world started to close as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the charity had to adapt quickly and find new ways to feed the children who eat their life-saving meals – sometimes the only food they receive in a day.
Thankfully, in many of the countries where Mary’s Meals are served, school playgrounds are beginning to fill with children once more. Children in Zambia, Liberia and Haiti are already returning to the classroom, and schools in Malawi, Ethiopia and Zimbabwe are expected to open again soon.
But whether they are learning at school or at home, the charity is continuing to safely reach the 1.6 million children who rely on Mary’s Meals – and, thanks to supporters, including players of People’s Postcode Lottery, this number is growing.
Players have raised over £2.1 million for Mary's Meals.
Working with governments, community leaders and partners, Mary’s Meals has developed new methods of distribution to reach children in their communities and provide food for them to eat at home, until it is safe for them to return to the classroom.
This means that parents such as Lauryn Chauwa, from Malawi, can wake up each morning knowing that their children will be able to eat and learn. Lauryn is home-schooling her 11-year-old daughter Gladys while continuing to care for her four-year-old son.
She says: "When it was announced that Mary’s Meals was going to start (food) distribution, I was so happy. It meant my daughter was going to be eating porridge at home now.
"The fact that Gladys eats porridge in the morning helps maintain her energy levels. It has been encouraging her, knowing someday schools will reopen and she will enjoy porridge in school again."
Wherever possible, Mary’s Meals serves food that is locally produced. This supports the community and its farmers, as well as the wider economy. In Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe, the children are served steaming mugs of porridge enriched with vitamins and minerals to help them grow and thrive.
Each year the charity celebrates the power of porridge on World Porridge Day, 10 October.
Find out more about how you can get involved by visiting worldporridgeday.com