Image of pot of rice being stirred

An update from Haiti

The situation is volatile and evolving, but our local partners are working tirelessly to ensure our programme can continue wherever possible.

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In recent weeks, widespread civil unrest has escalated in Haiti and engulfed the capital city of Port-au-Prince, causing death, displacement, and rapidly increasing hunger. The chaotic violence has forced many schools and businesses to close and thousands of people to flee their homes in search of safety. Insecurity continues to disrupt access to markets, which negatively impacts people’s livelihoods and access to food. A recent report estimates that 4.97 million of Haiti’s 11.7 million population are currently facing acute food insecurity. 

Image of child holding food

Under normal circumstances, Mary’s Meals serves school meals to more than 175,000 children every school day, working alongside three partner organisations – Caritas Hinche, Summits Education, and Bureau de Nutrition et Développement (BND). Our meals are served to children living in Haiti’s West and Centre departments. Amid the current violence, many schools have had to close under the state of emergency declared in the West Department. Across both areas, in 68% of schools where our meals are usually served, feeding is still taking place. The situation is volatile and evolving, but our local partners are working tirelessly to ensure our programme can continue wherever possible.  

Mary’s Meals in Haiti: situation overview 

  • A state of emergency was declared in March as Haitian gangs stormed prisons alongside calls for the resignation of Prime Minister Ariel Henry (who has since stepped down). A nightly curfew is in place across the country. 
  • Schools in Port-au-Prince and the surrounding metropolitan areas of the West Department are still under the state of emergency and required to remain closed. This only directly affects the schools served by our partner, BND, which delivers meals to children in both the Centre and West departments. 
  • Our other two partners serve children living in Haiti’s Centre Department and are currently reaching large numbers of their schools with daily school meals (Summits Education, 98%; Caritas Hinche, 77%). 
  • Our main supplier in Haiti is struggling to source food. It is hoped that humanitarian supply routes will be allowed to open. Mary’s Meals continues to explore all available options. 

Before this latest spate of violence gripped Port-au-Prince and its surrounding areas, the cost of staple foods was already significantly higher than five years previous. Low distribution of food and poor rains in 2023 are just some of the reasons why the cost of food was so high. The significant deterioration in security and the lack of availability of food driven by the unfolding situation has forced the cost of already inflated items to skyrocket in recent weeks. 

Existing food supplies for our school feeding programme are running low, with two of our partners having enough provisions to sustain school feeding until the end of April and the other anticipating shortage in the coming days unless supply routes reopen. We are in close communication with all partners and continuing to monitor the situation. 

Matt Barlow, our Executive Director, says, “Mary’s Meals is deeply concerned about this situation and we are working closely with our partners in Haiti to ensure that our school meals programme can continue wherever possible. We’d like to thank you, our supporters, for everything you do to support children in the most challenging of circumstances.” 

Image of children in Haiti walking

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