Our story

Child in Malawi learning in class

Our story

Learn our story and how we came to be feeding more than two million children every school day.

Our vision

We began in 2002 by feeding 200 children in Malawi. We are now reaching more than two million children every school day in 20 countries around the world.

Our vision is that every child receives one daily meal in their place of education and that all those who have more than they need, share with those who lack even the most basic things.

Working together with those who share our vision, we believe there is no good reason why this cannot be realised.

The incredible history of Mary’s Meals

Beginning graphic
Magnus Macfarlane Barrow prepares to drive to Bosnia

1992

Magnus and his brother Fergus were enjoying a pint in their local pub in Argyll when they saw a news report about conflict in Bosnia. After spending much of the night talking about ways to help those suffering, the brothers decided to organise a local appeal.

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1993

Magnus registers a new charity, Scottish International Relief (SIR).

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Magnus and Julie prepare for a trip

1993-2002

SIR expands. The charity’s work includes delivering aid to Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina and building homes in Romania.

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Mary's Meals logo

November 2002

Mary’s Meals is born 

Magnus visits Malawi and meets a dying mother, Emma, and her children. Her eldest son, Edward, tells Magnus: “I want to have enough food to eat and to go to school one day.” His words help inspire the founding of Mary’s Meals.

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Volunteers prepare food

2003

The first school meals are served in Chipini and Chilomoni, Malawi. 

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A child does schoolwork

2004

We start feeding children in Liberia and India. 

Our first information point opens in Medjugorje.

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2005

Mary’s Meals arrives in Kenya. 

Ireland joins the Mary’s Meals family. 

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2006

Children in Haiti eat Mary’s Meals for the first time. 

We welcome Germany into the Mary’s Meals family. 

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A child eats food in a classroom

2008

The first meals are served in Myanmar, Uganda, South Sudan and Thailand. 

The USA joins the Mary’s Meals global movement. 

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Fundraisers gather in the shape of a heart

2010

Mary’s Meals begins feeding children in Ecuador. 

Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina join the Mary’s Meals family. 

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Children wave outside a school

2011

The school feeding programme arrives in Benin. 

Italy joins the Mary’s Meals global movement. 

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Fundraisers in the USA do a bake sale

2012

We welcome Canada and the Netherlands to our global family. 

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2013

Austria joins the Mary’s Meals movement. 

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2014

School meals are first served in Zambia. 

Spain is welcomed into the Mary’s Meals family. 

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Mary's Meals celebrates feeding over 1 million children everyday
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2015

Mary’s Meals feeds one million children around the world every school day. 

Magnus’ book, The Shed That Fed A Million Children, is published. 

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2016

Our school feeding programme is launched in the Middle East to help Syrian refugee children living in Lebanon, alongside their Lebanese classmates. 

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2017

Children in the city of Aleppo, Syria, and in the Tigray region of Ethiopia are served Mary’s Meals for the first time. 

Belgium joins the Mary’s Meals family. 

We serve our billionth meal to 12-year-old Mohsin in India. 

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Young children in Ireland fundraise for Mary's Meals

2018

Australia, the Czech Republic and France join the Mary’s Meals family. 

Meals are first served to children in Zimbabwe and a small number in Madagascar. 

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2021

We are feeding more than two million children every school day. 

The Shed That Fed 2 Million Children, the fully updated edition of Magnus’ 

2015 book is released in celebration.

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