School meals are the start of change

School meals are the start of change
By Jacquelyn Wright, President & CEO
November 2019

School feeding programs are giving children like Melan a fresh start by providing daily school meals. Six-year-old Melan lives with her grandparents in a small, rural village in Uganda. Abandoned by her mother, her father’s parents are raising her, along with two other grandchildren and their own 10-year-old son. Melan’s father works miles from his parent’s village, making it nearly impossible to raise his daughter.

Melan and her two sisters and grandparents

Melan (smiling in the pink shirt) stands with her two sisters and grandparents, who now do not worry about their next meal thanks to kind donors.

There were times when life was really hard for me and my family,” Moses, Melan’s grandfather told us. “We couldn’t grow enough food so the whole family could only have a few meals – sometimes we only ate one meal a day.”

The children in this community were unhealthy and suffered from illnesses related to malnutrition. But it was the start of a Canadian Feed The Children supported feeding program in their community school gave the children the nutritional boost they needed. And generous donors are the reason that program continues to be effective.

While Melan loves to help her grandmother wash dishes and clothes and fetch water, school comes first. Her grandparents insist on the children getting an education. While at school, Melan enjoys playing dodgeball, skipping and hide and seek. And she is able to do these activities because she has had enough to eat. Not only does she have enough energy to play with her friends, but school meals have helped all children, including Melan, concentrate better in school because now they can focus on their studies and not their hunger.

Moses told us: “The school feeding program has really helped my children. Their health has improved and so has their performance in school. Children in this community school are very healthy compared to when the program just started.

Melan playing a clapping game with a classmate

Melan has the energy to play and learn in school because she now receives daily school meals.

And Melan wasn’t the only one who benefited from the generosity of Canadian Feed The Children donors. Moses was able to join a Village Savings and Loan (VSLA) where he learned how to be financially literate and effectively save his income for the future. Through borrowing from the VSLA, he was able to hire help around his farm, purchase a solar panel to bring lighting to his home at night, and provide his wife with a water drum to harvest rain water to reduce the long distances to fetch water.

We are all economically empowered. My family now has enough food to eat because of my joining of the VSLA,” Moses told us.

It is so inspiring to see generosity at work and helping to provide an entire family with enough food to eat and income for the future. But there is still a lot of work that needs to be done. Hunger is rising for the first time in 30 years, and children feel it the most.