Mary’s Meals feeds, impacts education of hungry children worldwide
TECUMSEH - St. Andrew Church in Tecumseh will host a soup supper Feb. 11 as a fundraiser for “Mary’s Meals.”
Mary’s Meals is a non-denominational organization that has fed more than 1 million children who attend school in 12 countries across Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean.
The soup supper will be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Feb. 11 and free-will offerings will be accepted for Mary’s Meals.
Mary’s Meals is focused on one goal – that every child receives a nutritious daily meal in a place of education. Wherever possible, locally-produced food is served to the children, to support the local community and its farmers, as well as the wider economy.
Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow of Argyll, Scotland organized Mary’s Meals. One day, Magnus and his brother Fergus felt moved to help those suffering, after seeing news reports of the Bosnian conflict. The brothers decided to organize a local appeal, collecting food, clothing, medicines and money at their home.
Two weeks later, Magnus gave up his job and sold his house so he could drive aid to Bosnia-Herzegovina, as long as the public kept donating. The public did not stop and Magnus never returned to his old job. He set up a registered charity, Scottish International Relief (SIR), and officially changed its name to Mary’s Meals. Today, the group’s headquarters is still located in a Quonset shed located on Magnus’ father’s farm.
“It only costs $19.50 to provide meals for one child per school year,” said Howard McNiff of Tecumseh. “It’s refreshing to see these kids happy to go to school to learn ... which is a key to the kids getting out of poverty.”
McNiff learned about Mary’s Meals while visiting a friend in Winterset, Iowa. Several parishioners, along with Father Craig Clinch met Magnus in Des Moines, during the Christ Our Life Catholic Regional Conference in September 2016.
Representatives from Winterset, Iowa will give a presentation on Mary’s Meals after the Feb. 11-12 Masses at St. Andrew Church and St. Mary Church in St. Mary.
According to Mary’s Meals website, approximately 59 million of the world’s hungriest children do not attend school. In order to survive, they have to work or beg. Even if these children do make it into the classroom, hunger affects their ability to learn. The website recounts recent research from Malawi, Africa, showing a 24% increase in enrollment and a 10% increase in the attendance rate six months after the introduction of the feeding program. Other data trends show that enrollment increases by an average of 30% three years after the introduction of Mary’s Meals.
Mary’s Meals is owned and operated by community volunteers (consisting of parents, teachers and volunteers) in the countries where food is provided. For example, more than 65,000 volunteers in Malawi take turns to prepare, cook and serve the daily meal in each school.
Most of the food that is provided and cooked daily for the children in schools throughout the 12 countries across Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean include vitamin-enriched porridge, supplemented by fresh vegetables, chicken, pork, fish, rice, maize, sorghum, beans, noodles and potatoes.
A variety of materials and a video on how Mary’s Meals was established will be available during the soup supper.
From Anne Wickert, Tecumseh Chieftan