This year, you’ll find Irene from Uganda on the cover of our all-new Best.Gift.Ever catalogue. Her winning smile is a testament to the joy that children feel when they have all the support they need to grow and thrive.
Parents and guardians forced to make difficult choices
Her grandmother, Deborah, has been working hard to support Irene and her siblings. She finds that she’s having to make difficult decisions between providing meals for her grandchildren and pursuing her livelihood.
“Irene and her siblings kept having to come home for breakfast and lunch as opposed to eating at school. This affected my garden work because I had to spend time preparing food. Consequently, this hindered my ability to plant so I was receiving low yields,” Deborah told us.
Low harvest yields for Deborah meant less household income, which meant she had to make difficult choices, often choosing to buy food over school supplies for Irene and her siblings.
With Irene having to travel long distances to and from school for meals, she, like many students, misses important classroom work and is at risk of falling behind in school.
Sadly, Deborah's family isn't the only one facing nutrition challenges. Uganda has one of the highest rates of food insecurity in the world. Three out of every 10 children face stunted growth, which impacts their overall health and ability to do well in school. Deborah told us, "Children need to be fed well. They cannot stay in the school without food."
Even children who had no hope of joining school, especially girls, have been attracted to school by the school feeding program.
A healthy and nutritious solution
Thankfully, Canadian Feed The Children’s donor-supported school feeding programs are providing nutritious meals to children for breakfast and lunch in schools across Uganda. Now, Irene and her siblings have access to fresh and nutritious meals right at school, which gives them more energy to study and play.
“School meals have helped children to stay at school for longer hours and have more time to study. Even children who had no hope of joining school, especially girls, have been attracted to school by the school feeding program. Teachers tell us parents that their students’ absenteeism has declined,” Deborah says.
Not only is her performance at school improving, but Irene shares the things she has learned in the school garden with her grandma at home. This advice from her grandchildren, coupled with donor-funded business support, has improved both Deborah's home garden output and family income. Her home garden now grows additional crops like cassava, and Deborah has harvested enough that she can sell extra produce and has bought a cow for their family!
School meals are the Best.Gift.Ever
Best.Gift.Ever gifts are helping children like Irene get the nutrition they need now while setting them up for success by ensuring they stay in school and receive a quality education. These gifts are also helping women like Deborah further their livelihoods and economically empower communities of women around the world.
Thank you for supporting children with Best.Gift.Ever gifts. You are truly making a difference in the lives of community members worldwide.
In our podcast First Comes Food, we go on a journey through Indigenous food forests in Saskatchewan, farming communities in African countries and early childhood community programs in Bolivia to meet the people who are growing food security for everyone. Their stories may surprise you.
Listen to First Comes Food, now streaming on our website and wherever you listen to your favourite podcasts.