It’s natural that when you think about school meals your mind goes to the food your own children are eating, or the children in your town or eating, or your country, or – if you work in school food provision – the meals you’re helping to make and serve.
But part of the ethos of this site is not to only consider the task for the many involved in international school catering in developed or developing countries; those who are finding ways to improve our children’s nutrition, or even to help tackle childhood obesity. We also want to look at those who have the unenviable task of feeding children in countries where starvation is a real and serious issue. Those who depend on school perhaps not just for their improved nutrition, but for their only nutrition.
Mary’s Meals is becoming increasingly well known as a charitable organisation that works providing school meals for more than 650,000 children per day in 16 countries around the world. They have partnership programmes in the UK, USA, Ireland, Austria, Croatia, Germany and Italy.
Incredibly they estimate it costs only a little over £10 or $16 or €12 to feed one child for a whole school year.
This week I learned about the Eat Here, Feed There programme which is being supported by restaurants in the US. I specifically read here about a restaurant in Houston that donates the cost of a school meal supplied by the United Nations World Food Programme every time someone buys one of their crepes.
The decision to do this was made right at the inception of the restaurant – Sweet Paris – by the founders Ivan Chavez and Alison Young, and by the end of July, only a couple of months after the restaurant opened, they had already donated more than 24,000 meals.
Although I hesitate over the wording of the term ‘deserving children’ (let’s just assume they mean anyone who’s hungry) the programme means more to many than simply feeding kids. As well as helping break the cycle of starvation, it also means kids come to school – and stay there – and therefore gain an education which may hopefully lift them out of poverty in the future.
Programmes like this have so much value beyond just feeding children, but at the most basic level when one sixth of the global population suffers from malnutrition and six million children expected to die of starvation this year alone, they deserve recognition and support.