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Welcome to Mozambique!

Mary's Meals will bring hope to thousands of children on the front line of climate change

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We are delighted to announce the expansion of our school feeding programme into Mozambique as El Niño-induced drought and flooding force millions across Southern Africa into extreme hunger.

We currently provide daily school meals to 2.4 million children around the world in areas where many factors hinder access to learning, including hunger, conflict and climate change. More than 1.5 million children are already benefiting from Mary’s Meals in neighbouring nations Zambia, Zimbabwe and Malawi – all of which have declared a state of emergency in recent months because of drought.

Our expansion into Mozambique will bring vital nutrition to more than 5,000 children living in the Mabalane District of Mozambique’s Gaza province, in partnership with local NGO Mozambique School Lunch Initiative (MSLI). The programme will begin next week (20 May) in more than 30 schools, with children receiving school meals for the first time when they return from holidays for the new term.

Mozambique, identified as one of the world’s most vulnerable countries to the effects of climate change (1), has been hit by 11 tropical cyclones since 2007 (2). In March, a year after Cyclone Freddy ravaged the country and left millions in urgent need of support, Tropical Storm Filipo made landfall across the central and southern provinces, affecting tens of thousands of people.

Hunger and accessing adequate food are ongoing challenges for the people of Mozambique. Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) projections suggest that 3.3 million people are facing ‘Crisis’ or ‘Emergency’ levels of food insecurity (3) and almost 65% of the population live below the international poverty line ($2.15 per day) (4).

Founder and CEO of Mary’s Meals, Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow, says: “As drought and flooding continue to devastate so many countries in Southern Africa, our expansion to Mozambique will provide important ongoing support to children whose lives are deeply affected by hunger, poverty and extreme weather events. 

"So much of Mozambique’s population rely on farming to survive, so the recent irregular rainfall and the constant threat of cyclones mean that many families just don’t have enough food to sustain them. Our consistent school meals will bring much-needed relief, stability, and nutrition to children at a time of uncertainty and help to ease the worry of their parents – many of whom will be actively partnering with us as volunteer cooks.”

MSLI has been delivering school feeding elsewhere in Gaza Province for more than eight years and has extensive experience working with local schools and food producers as well as relevant authorities and community leaders. Like Mary’s Meals, MSLI is passionate about cost-efficient school feeding with a focus on building strong community engagement and ownership of the programme.

Roberto Mutisse, co-founder and Executive Director of MSLI, says: “When we met with children in Mabalane District, we saw just how much hunger affects their lives. During one conversation, I asked a six-year-old-girl how many times they ate at home. She said: ‘if dad can’t sell a bag of charcoal, we don’t eat at home.’ To hear such a young child have this notion of hunger really hit home. 

"The Mozambique School Lunch Initiative is so excited to partner with Mary’s Meals to serve these learners and provide a new source of hope and support for vulnerable children and their families. Not only will children know they can rely on a nutritious meal at school, their parents will also have relief knowing their kids won’t go hungry even if they come home empty handed.”

We look forward to sharing updates from our new programme in Mozambique soon. Meanwhile, our small programmes in Thailand and Myanmar, which we ran with local partners, have now come to an end. We have a commitment to stepping aside when we see there are others in a better position to provide school feeding which is the case in Thailand and Myanmar and this means we can focus on reaching children in greatest need. Therefore, with the addition of Mozambique, we are now feeding children in 17 countries around the world. We continue to serve meals to more than 2.4 million children each school day. 

Mary’s Meals’ vision is that every child receives one meal in their place of education and our strategy is to expand in areas where the need for school feeding is greatest – where food insecurity is high and there are low rates of school enrolment. Research shows that where children receive Mary’s Meals, hunger is reduced, enrolment increases, attendance improves, drop-out rates and absence rates fall, concentration and participation in class increases, communities worry less about children being hungry, and children are happier.

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