How much did you spend when you went out to lunch last week? Have you ever thought of saving that money to help others in need? Nearly $2000 is spent each year by two-thirds of Americans who eat lunch out while at work. Each week we spend approximately $38.46/week eating out when we could bring our lunch from home and not only save money but donate it to the 66 million kids who come to school hungry each day in countries like Honduras, Niger, and Kenya.
This is the concept behind World Food Program USA’s (WFP USA) Lunch Money Challenge. From October 14-18, WFP USA is encouraging you to grab a lunch bag, pack a sandwich, grab a piece of fruit, and repeat this week. Bring your lunch for 5 days and use that money to fundraise for 3 countries to help with their school meal program to help provide nutritious food to kids who need it the most. After all, it only takes $0.25 to fill a cup to provide one lunch for a child in these countries per day.
I know first-hand how important nutrition is to developing minds and bodies from my experience as a first grade teacher but in countries like Honduras, 10% of the population is undernourished because of drought. In Niger, 2.5 million people can’t have their basic food needs met because of poverty. In Nairobi, Kenya, girls are unfairly excluded from school because of poverty and safety. Less than half of school age children in Kenya receive formal education.
Home Grown School Meals are nutritious meals served in school and made with food provided by local farmers. The program is a sustainable effort to involve local farmers by strengthening communities since they are a way to provide local ingredients from local farmers to local children. Meals like soup and cereal provided by WFP encourage kids, especially girls, to attend school. A donation of $250 provides 1,000 home grown school meals.
Home Grown School Meals is a program that is truly making a difference to over 400,000 refugees and benefits 70,000 children. Last week I had the pleasure of joining a call with Fatuma Mohamed, a senior program assistant with the World Food Program in Dadaab, Kenya. Fatuma grew up in Kenya’s northeastern province and her connection to WFP began when she was 7 years old. As a young student, she received hot meals through the organization’s school meals program.
Fatuma lost her father when she was 4 years. Even though her mother had very little money and no formal education herself, she wanted her children to have the opportunity to go to school even though educating girls was something the community did not support at the time. With the help of local administrators, Fatuma and her siblings were able to attend school.
WFP provided daily mid-morning school meals of porridge for Fatuma and her siblings. “If it wasn’t for the school meals, I would have dropped out and I wouldn’t be what I am today,” she admitted during our call. “Kids come to school very late, not traditional ages like here in the US because families don’t value education as much as we do here. You might find a child in elementary school at age 14.”
Fatuma graduated from the Jaribu Primary School, later went on to receive a higher university diploma in agriculture and home economics, and has been working for WFP since July 2005. In her role, she works to ensure accountability and transparency in food distributions, supervises other staff and coordinates WFP activities with partner organizations.
Fatuma is one of the many people who has benefitted from WFP Home Grown School Meals. She is passionate about what she does and incorporates her personal experience into her work by talking to families about the value of education even though it isn’t always a priority.
Fatuma is also a mother herself. She and her husband have three children, two boys and one girl ranging in age from five to 18. She feels that “women are the foundation of every society and girls grow into women and need to be supported. Nothing can move forward in the world without women, mothers, and girls.”
Please join me this week to #FeedaDream as part of WPF USA’s Lunch Money Challenge. Bring your lunch for 5 days and use that money to fundraise for 3 countries to help with their school meal program. It only takes $0.25 to fill a cup to provide one lunch for a kid in these countries per day.
This post is part of a campaign with The Mission List and the World Food Program USA. Images courtesy of WFP USA. All opinions are my own.