Food for thought at the Global Child Nutrition Forum

Gillian, our director of strategic partnerships and policy, recently presented at the Global Child Nutrition Forum in Tunisia, to talk about Mary’s Meals and the impact of our work.

Gillian McMahon
Gillian McMahon
Director of strategic partnerships and policy

Back to all stories | Posted on 09 Nov 2018 in Blog

There were more than 350 delegates present at this year’s Global Child Nutrition Forum, including senior government representatives, donors, food suppliers and policy makers, all working on national school feeding in 60 different countries. The governments of almost every country in which Mary’s Meals works were represented in the same room – highlighting the level of commitment to – and recognition of the importance of – school feeding within each country.  

It was great to hear from Prof Don Bundy, Professor of epidemiology and development at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Prof Bundy (incidentally the only other Scot in the room) argued that school feeding is an essential investment for human development and progress towards the sustainable development goals. The summary for his new book states: “Long-term goals in health are unattainable without an educated population, and children cannot learn if they suffer from the effects of poor health and nutrition.”

I was also delighted that he started his speech by saying that, while there are still millions of children in need of a daily meal in their place of education, he is really encouraged by the fact that we are now able to say that millions of children in poverty are now being fed around the world, “thanks to the efforts of governments, the World Food Programme and charities – in particular Mary’s Meals. Go Scotland!”. 

Gillian with other delegates at the Global Child Nutrition Forum 2018.

My own presentation talked about the evidence of the impact Mary’s Meals’ programmes have on children, their families and communities. After this, I had a good conversation with Liberian government delegates who thanked Mary’s Meals for supporting so many children in their country and urged us to continue.  

The minister of education for South Sudan, Deng Deng Hoc Yai, also thanked us for our support but talked about the “serious problems” his country faces and the need to scale up efforts to provide school meals to the more than two million children living in what he called “high poverty” in South Sudan. Minister Hoc Yai agreed that our school feeding projects are contributing to peace-building in the local communities where we work and said that having children from different ethnic environments eating together and becoming friends is important for working towards a peaceful future for South Sudan. He described schools as ‘zones of peace’ and said that our work to deliver Mary’s Meals in this environment is very much part of helping the government establish such safe havens.  

An enjoyable day with much food for thought!

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