News story

Justine Greening visits Mary’s Meals to announce UK aid match funding

Scottish charity Mary’s Meals receives £5 million in match funding from UK government, following overwhelming response to its latest campaign.

International Development Secretary Justine Greening meeting Scottish schoolchildren at Mary's Meals in Glasgow. Picture: Christy McCurdy/DFID
International Development Secretary Justine Greening meeting Scottish schoolchildren at Mary's Meals in Glasgow. Picture: Christy McCurdy/DFID

Scottish charity Mary’s Meals is set to receive £5 million from the UK Government in match funding, following an overwhelming response to its latest campaign from generous supporters.

Secretary of State for International Development, Rt Hon Justine Greening MP, announced £5m in UK Government match funding for Mary’s Meals at their Glasgow office today, following the overwhelming success of theirFeed Our Future campaign, which was supported by the UK Aid Match fund.

The Department for International Development (DFID) uses its UK Aid Match scheme to match public donations to selected charity appeals, pound for pound, giving the public a say in how Britain’s aid budget is spent.

The Mary’s Meals Feed Our Future campaign initially aimed to raise £1.5 million from public donations during the last three months of 2015. However, the response was astounding, with £5 million donated by generous UK supporters, ensuring the maximum £5 million available in match funding from the UK government.

Mary’s Meals is a grassroots movement that currently reaches more than 1.1 million of the world’s poorest children with a daily meal in their place of education, in 13 countries. The charity will extend its school feeding programmes in Malawi and Zambia using the cash boost from the government, as part of a three-year project to provide daily meals to thousands of children at school.

By serving a daily meal in a place of education, Mary’s Meals attracts impoverished children into the classroom, where they can gain skills that will help them escape poverty in future. The school feeding programmes are community owned, with volunteers working in rotation to prepare the meals for the children.

The £5m UK Aid Match funding will be put towards a three-year project to expand and develop the charity’s existing school feeding programmes in Malawi and Zambia, focusing on four districts in Malawi and two in Zambia.

The need for school feeding in both Malawi and Zambia is huge. Many families are so poor that, often, school only becomes an option for their children when a meal is being provided. In many cases, without the hope of a meal in school, children could be working, begging or even scavenging to survive.

International Development Secretary Justine Greening said:

The UK Government Aid Match funding I am announcing today means that donations from the generous supporters of Mary’s Meals will make even more of a difference.

Mary’s Meals is an inspirational charity, helping to transform the lives of some of the world’s poorest children. Its work shows the importance of Scotland’s role in the UK’s international development effort. Working together we are helping to build a safer, healthier, more prosperous world.

Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow, founder and CEO of Mary’s Meals, said:

Wherever we begin serving Mary’s Meals, more children start attending school every day and children who were previously in school but too hungry to learn become able to concentrate in class.

We originally planned a project that would cost £3m to implement (with £1.5m coming in from the public and the other half from the UK Government), which would provide meals to more than 100,000 children in Malawi and Zambia. Thanks to the overwhelming response to our campaign, we will now receive £5m in UK Government funding, so we’re extending our project plans to ensure thousands more children will benefit.

We are so thankful to our quite amazing supporters, and to the UK Government for matching those generous donations. While we are delighted that this funding boost will allow us to reach children in these particular districts in Malawi and Zambia, we remain painfully aware that many more are still hungry and out of school, not just in Africa, but all over the world.

In fact, globally, 59 million children are missing out on their education because of poverty. So, more than ever, we remain focused on raising the next £12.20 – which is what it costs on average for us to feed a child for an entire school year – and we look forward to the day when every child in this world of plenty can receive a daily meal in their place of education.

This news follows an announcement that Mary’s Meals plans to soon begin providing meals for vulnerable children in Lebanon, including many Syrian refugees.

Published 3 March 2016