Mary's Meals: Working to end world hunger
Contributed by: Anne Nzuki
Mary’s Meals aims to raise £3,760, enough to feed over 400 children in Malawi for a full year.
Mary's Meals is a charity founded in 2002 by two brothers, Magnus and Fergus MacFarlane-Barrow. It began as a one-off school lunch program by Scottish International Relief in Malawi. Today, Mary’s Meals feeds over 500,000 children daily. The campaign aims to provide chronically hungry children with one meal a day in school. In this way, the children are encouraged to gain the education that can lift them out of poverty later in life.
The Story Of Mary's Meals from Mary's Meals on Vimeo.
Clarify the goals and context for sustaining the effort:
a. The Problem – World Hunger
Today more people die from hunger related diseases than they do from HIV/AIDS, malaria, or tuberculosis combined. In a world where there is enough food for everyone, hunger is still the biggest threat to health. Children are particularly vulnerable; hunger kills millions of children each year. It also stunts their growth – as well as their goals and dreams of a bright future. Hungry children think about survival, not about going to school. In order to survive they have to work, whether in the fields or on the streets. Even if they do attend school, hunger affects their ability to learn, and store information. All of this suffering could be prevented by helping children eat well.
b. A Solution – Mary’s Meals
Our vision is that all those who have more than they need, share with those who lack even the most basic things, and that every child receives one daily meal in their place of education.
Our mission is to enable people to offer their money, goods, skills, time, or prayer, and through this involvement, provide the most effective help to those suffering the effects of extreme poverty in the world’s poorest communities.
An education can set a child free from poverty in adult life, and often carries through to future generations, ensuring that their children will also be able to live a life without poverty. To gain an education, children first need to attend school and then have to the opportunity to devote their full concentration learning. Mary’s Meals not only feeds children, but encourages them to attend school, get an education, and build a foundation for a better life.
Through Mary’s Meals:
- Daily attendance improves
- Concentration improves
- Education of girls is encouraged
- Children earn better grades
Resources and Media
Mary's Meal offers resources that are free to use and reproduce for any activities in support of the organization.
Potential obstacles to sustainability
The organization depends mostly on donations, which are subject to change.
Current structure and organization of initiative
Mary’s Meals has programs in different countries that differ significantly depending on cultural and social differences (e.g., Malawi, Haiti, Burma, and Bangladesh).
Public awareness of the group or effort
Charity founder Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow was honored as a 2010 CNN Hero of the Year, which brought global awareness to the organization. Mary’s Meals continues to work to raise public awareness about its activities.
Gerard Butler presented a £16,000 prize to fellow Scotsman
Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow, founder of Mary's Meals. (CNN Heroes)
Resources necessary to sustain the organization:
Mary’s Meals is funded almost entirely by individual donors. Some give a one-time donation while others pledge an amount monthly or annually. Of every £1 that is donated no more than 6p is spent on fundraising and 1p on governance, leaving 93p to spend on charitable activities. Mary’s Meals makes it a priority to keep the costs of running the organization at a minimum so that as much of the donations as possible reach those in need. Consequently, the organization has come to be known as “the charity that operates out of a tin shed.”
Mary’s Meals operates in many countries providing daily meals to children in their local schools
Budget and financial statements:
You can find budgets and financial statements online, as well as Directors' report and financial statements, and a breakdown of how donated money is spent at How we spend your donations.
This picture is from Liberia, where Mary's Meals is providing a daily meal at school
for 39,664 children. American Mary's Meals staff member Mike Miller,
who took this photo, says,"It really is an awesome thing to see.
Just giving a hungry child food is the most rewarding thing ever.
The kids are so grateful."
Tactics used to sustain the effort
Other than fundraising efforts which target individual donors, Mary’s Meals has designed different projects that will appeal to different individuals.
For example, for those who are interested in donating to educational institutions, they can Sponsor A School, or donate to the Backpack Project. Those who are part of religious institution are also able to donate to Prayer Support.
Two Main Projects:
The Sponsor A School project has a wide appeal and all sorts of groups and individuals participate – churches, schools, businesses, families, and work colleagues. You can download a flyer on the website to share with friends and colleagues.
The Backpack Project appeals to schools, clubs, businesses, churches and individuals to fill backpacks with basic education materials to send to children receiving Mary’s Meals.
For more details on the projects, check out What You Can Do.
Mary’s Meals also offers a collection of fundraising resources available to all those interested in raising funds and awareness for Mary’s Meals.
Action plan for sustaining the initiative:
The What You Can Do page provides an action plan for sustaining the initiative by keeping people involved in the project in many different ways.
Adapted from Mary’s Meals website
YouTube video about Mary’s Meals