Mary’s Meals provides daily meals in school for children disadvantaged by caste, disability, gender, or HIV status.
Mary’s Meals is currently supporting school feeding projects across 10 states in India. Our main focus is in the north eastern states where there is a high concentration of poverty (Bihar, Orissa, Chattisgarh and Jharkhand). We also have projects in Delhi and the south of the country.
It is estimated there are around 250 million Dalits or ‘untouchables’ trapped in chronic poverty in India. Mary’s Meals offers a lifeline to children born into communities that have never had the opportunity to gain an education. There is often no history of going to school amongst parents and no expectation that their children could do so. In many cases children are forced to work as rag pickers, child minders, or street beggars and would be unable to fit their work around a normal school day.
To meet this need Mary’s Meals are provided in non-formal education centres rather than schools. These are proving to be an effective way of helping Dalit children to receive an education. Each centre teaches around 30 pupils for 3-4 hours each day and ‘school’ can be anything from a tarpaulin shelter to a railway platform. The meal attracts the children in and then they stay for the lessons that could open up a whole new future for them.