School teachers and guardians identified hunger as the primary problem affecting regular school attendance and academic performance. Many children were going home for the daily lunch break but returning to school in the afternoon without having had anything to eat.
In 2008, we initiated a school-based lunch program which ensures that children have at least one nutritious meal each day. More than 3,000 students in 18 primary schools receive a daily lunch of maize, beans, and vegetables, which is prepared and served by the children’s guardians.
Regina’s heartfelt letter beautifully expresses the impact the school lunch program has had on her family:
I am a paternal orphan. I am blessed with a wonderful mother. I thank God. In 2005, I joined class one [first grade]. I did not have a father. I also lacked another essential need: FOOD. I remember sharing the neighbours’ door threshold with their dog eyeing them at table at meal-times, prompted by hunger pangs. Of course that earned me the canine name. I was in lower primary. I could ignore it. In 2007 I finished class three. I was moving to class 4. This was upper primary! How could I bear the thought of the canine trend? This name also applied to my Mum! It was hurting yet we had no food security.Trust me, the Umoja Project school lunch program was an answer to my prayer. It was right from the “Father to the fatherless, defender of the widows…” (Psalms 68:5) You can imagine just how much of a rescue it was. I was able to shake off the canine name. My mother was able to walk straight from her shameful stoop. My renewed self-worth and confidence enabled me to face my peers head on in academics. In perfect health I was able to attend class regularly. My grades improved My spirit soared. I made it through primary school. With the help of the project, I joined Mawego Girls Secondary School.As I look back, I cannot only afford a smile but also a sigh of relief. Next year I will take my end-of-high school exam. I want to go straight to university. I owe it all to the school lunch program.I pray that you give another orphan an opportunity like I have had: FOOD SECURITY THROUGH THE SCHOOL LUNCH PROGRAM.
With thanksgiving and gratitude,
Watch the video to learn more about all of the people involved in making this interfaith effort to feed hungry children a success.