Mary’s Meals – a simple solution to world hunger

Girl getting served with a mug of porridge

School + Food = Hope

Mary’s Meals is a charity that runs school feeding programs in some of the world’s poorest communities, where poverty and hunger prevent children from getting an education. Instead of going to school, they work in fields, beg on street corners or dig through garbage to survive. A daily school meal is a strong incentive for these children to attend classes. Education can pave the way to a better future.

Mary’s Meals was founded in 2002 by Scotsman Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow and currently feeds 2,058,099 children in 19 countries on five continents.
The average cost of providing a child with food each school day is only $26.40 per school year. We keep our running costs as low as possible to ensure that at least 93% of donations go directly to our charitable activities.

3 Malawian volunteers cooking porridge

Nothing works without volunteers

Our work is largely based on volunteer commitment - here and on site. In the project countries, volunteers take care of the organization, cooking and serving the meals. In Malawi alone, our largest project country, where we reach over 30% of all primary school children, there are over 80,000 volunteers, mostly mothers and fathers of the children.

A simple idea that works!

School feeding has a life-changing impact on children

  • Less hunger
  • Improved health, more energy, happier children
  • Increase in school enrolments
  • Better performances
  • Regular school attendance, higher rates of graduation
  • Offering a school meal motivates all children to attend school. 50% of the children are girls.

Helping people to help themselves - Sustainable impact

  • The communities in which Mary’s Meals works own and operate the projects
  • The communities are involved in the projects from the beginning and can thus help change the future of their children
  • Education is increasingly recognized as important by parents, they get more involved in school activities
  • Wherever possible, the ingredients for the food are bought regionally from small farmers with a positive impact on the local economy

Only $26.40 feeds a child for an entire school year.

We believe that the children who receive Mary’s Meals today will grow up healthy and educated, and will one day help their communities overcome poverty so that they will no longer need aid. We call the generation of these children "Generation Hope".

Let’s Move for Meals, because 59 million children are still waiting for Mary’s Meals!

Frequently asked questions

Our vision is that every child receives a meal at school every day and that those who have more than they need share with those who lack even the basic necessities of life.
This vision connects people all over the world. In many countries in Europe, Australia, the USA and Canada, volunteers help to raise awareness of Mary’s Meals and to collect donations.

Ethiopia, Benin, Ecuador, Haiti, India, Kenya, Lebanon, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Myanmar, Niger, Romania, Zambia, South Sudan, Syria, Thailand and Uganda.

School Officers employed by Mary’s Meals visit the schools unannounced two-three times a week. They check stock levels, student attendance and the punctuality of volunteers, teachers and children. The food is delivered directly to the schools. The amount of food is based on the number of pupils.
The concept is designed to be very easy to adopt independently. MM works with the aim of withdrawing when countries (governments) or communities are able to take over the feeding program.

On the life-changing impact of school feeding on children cited above: Mary’s Meals is collecting long-term data from Malawi, Zambia and Liberia on the impact of school feeding on the lives of vulnerable children and their communities. The findings, verified by INTRAC, an external research organization, are based on interviews with children, teachers, parents, guardians and volunteers over several years. They compare studies at schools with Mary’s Meals with schools where meals are not yet provided.

Ecologically sustainable where possible: energy-efficient stoves that require only a small amount of firewood, produce less smoke and therefore emit less carbon (e.g. in Malawi and Zambia). To avoid deforestation of the surrounding forests, dedicated forest plots are created on school grounds and the consumption of firewood is monitored (e.g. in Malawi and Zambia) In some areas, school gardens are created (e.g. Kenya). Long-term: New project countries, areas and schools are only included in the program when it is certain that funding is secured for all schools that have been supported so far, as well as for the new ones to be included. The amount of $26.40 per child per school year includes, apart from the food: transport, everything needed for preparation, monitoring, etc.

In the countries and regions where Mary’s Meals is active, additional appeals for donations may launched in the event of disasters (drought, floods, earthquakes, etc.) where special solutions can be developed.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, schools were closed in all project countries. The local staff quickly found safe ways to continue providing food for the children.

The work of Mary’s Meals is based on donations. Through our self-commitment to keep all costs as low as possible, at least 93% of all donations flow directly into the projects.
Mary’s Meals Canada was incorporated in 2012 and registered as a charity in 2013. For tax receipts for donations, we require a first and last name of the donor and mailing address.