Children eating in Haiti

Feeding Haiti’s children amidst violent insecurity

With help from our local partners, we continue to attract children to school in the midst of unrest in Haiti

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Amongst continued violent unrest in Haiti, Mary’s Meals is providing hope in the form of education and school meals to children on the Caribbean island.

Haiti – the poorest country in the Americas – has been plagued by extreme violence and insecurity since 2018, which escalated following the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in July 2021. A recent report from the UN stated that 2,500 people were killed or injured in gang violence in the first quarter of 2024. An earlier UN report estimated that 80% of the country’s capital, Port-au-Prince, is controlled by gangs. Many schools in the country have had to close for the safety of their students.

The latest data from Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) shows that 4.97 million people – nearly half of Haiti’s population – are facing acute food insecurity in crisis or emergency levels.

Child eating in Haiti

Mary’s Meals has been operating in Haiti since 2006 and currently feeds 206,698 children every school day. Despite the ongoing turbulence, we have managed to purchase and deliver food for the remainder of the school year, which ends later this month, thanks to the dedication of our local partners Bureau de Nutrition et Développement (BND), Caritas Hinche and Summits Education. Feeding is taking place at 94% of schools, and more food is available in the event that others are able to safely reopen.

Emmline Toussaint, Administrative and Financial Director at BND, explains the horrors facing the people of Haiti, which is on a scale that isn’t fully realized by the outside world: “If I have to say what we are living through, on a daily basis in Haiti, anybody would think I’m talking about a fictional book. Many employees, including myself, had to flee our homes because the situation was really bad. We have so many people dying and we cannot count how many people are really dying. What you see in the news is not the reality. Unfortunately, I think it's way worse.”


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The continued availability of Mary’s Meals in Haiti is only possible thanks to the selflessness of Emmline and her colleagues at BND and our other partners. In an environment where political and environmental stability is so volatile, this commitment is remarkable.

Emmline says: “As soon as the ports reopened, we had the stocks. But now, we have to deliver them to the schools, which is quite difficult. Our trucks are being stopped every 50 to 100 kilometres by gang members, but they have been able to pass.”

Mary’s Meals is helping to provide stability to the children of Haiti with a nutritious daily meal in school, while also providing much-needed relief to their families who may struggle to feed them. Alongside our local partner, we hope that by keeping youngsters in the classroom, the next generation of Haitians won’t be drawn into the violence engulfing their country.

School feeding in Haiti


Emmline explains: “School feeding is the best way to keep children at school. We know that they are attracted by the food but what they are getting is not only the food but also an education. We are sure that children can go to class, we are sure that they are taking their notebooks and not guns.”

Our school feeding programme is helping children like siblings Jean Ishel, four, and Felisha Maria, six, who started school in January after their father went missing, presumed dead, in Port-au-Prince. Their mother moved the children to the area of Léogâne, where the school’s principal agreed to admit them for free. Emmline says: “You could see the change in their behaviour, because now they can eat something, they can go to school. Of course this will not replace their dad, but at least they can live peacefully.”

Matt Barlow, Executive Director at Mary's Meals UK, says: “Some of the stories we’re hearing of the unrest in Haiti are nothing short of heart-breaking. It’s awful that people in the country are having to live with this crisis on a daily basis.

“The work of our incredible partners, however, is bringing so much hope to these communities and ensuring that children can rely on receiving a meal every school day. The kindness of people across the UK makes a huge difference to these children who are living in such difficult circumstances. It costs just £19.15 to feed a child with Mary’s Meals for a whole school year.”

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