Researching What’s for Lunch? I talked to and read about lots of amazing people all over the world doing great things to improve kids’ access to healthy food. It was very inspiring.
But, for me, one of the most moving parts of my research was learning about Dadaab refugee camp on the border of Kenya and Somalia. There, hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing violence in their homeland are crammed into a space intended for 90,000. Many kids don’t even go to school because the facilities are crowded and inadequate and they have to share text books and desks. But the children who do attend receive a hot meal provided by the World Food Programme. It’s usually very simple: corn-soy porridge fortified with vitamins and minerals. It’s not served in pretty dishes or colourful trays, but for many of the kids it’s the best—and often only—meal they’ll have all day.
There, school lunch is more than a perk for busy parents or even a way to embed food literacy into the already robust curriculum, it’s life-sustaining.
For World Food Day—mark your calendars for October 16—the World Food Programme (WFP) has a new campaign to raise awareness and funds for its excellent work all over the world, including school meal programs that ensure nearly 26 million kids in 60 countries receive a healthy meal each day. All you have to do is watch the video (above), take a quick quiz and one meal will be provided to a child through the WFP.
It all began last year, when WFP handed a small pink and white flipcam to a then–12-year-old girl named Molly who lives in Nairobi, Kenya. Molly chronicled her life in the Mathare slum—a sprawling city of shacks made from corrugated steel and other foraged materials—even taking the camera to school, where she receives a hot meal provided by WFP. The short videos she made got a lot of attention, and Molly ended up meeting kids from other countries (via video) and international reporters who came to interview her. She even has her own Youtube channel. With her articulate and matter-of-fact approach about how school meals have made it possible for her to learn and focus in school, Molly became a kind of star. (I loved hearing her say that children can improve the environment much better than adults!)
Now WFP is using Molly’s story as a gateway to get more people talking about hunger and the power of school meals. Every time someone watches the video and takes the quiz between now and World Food Day on October 16, an anonymous donor will contribute a meal to a hungry kid. The goal is 50,000 meals. Please take a few minutes to learn about Molly’s world and how school feeding programs in Mathare, Dadaab and so many other places can support learning, better health and stronger communities.
(For more on why school lunch matters all around the world, check out my infographic here.)