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Mary’s Meals reaches more than 1,000,000 children every school day in Malawi

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Where we work

Life in Malawi

Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world, ranking 169 out of 191 countries and territories in the Human Development Index (HDI).  A staggering 70% of the population live below the international poverty line ($2.15 a day) and 34% of children under five have stunted growth.

Malawi has consistently high levels of food insecurity and the population are increasingly vulnerable to the effects of climate change.  As families struggle to find enough food to eat, survival takes priority over education.

Malawi is a landlocked country in southeastern Africa which occupies a narrow strip of land along the East African Rift Valley.  The country is renowned for its spectacular lakes and sprawling highlands.  Lake Nyasa, known as ‘Lake Malawi’, makes up more than one-fifth of the country’s total area.

Often referred to as ‘the small country with the big heart’, Malawi is renowned for the warmth of its people.  Malawians typically live with their extended families in small, local villages and there is a real spirit of togetherness and cooperation as family members share work and resources.

A volunteer cook laughs as she prepares food

Mary's Meals in Malawi

Malawi is where our school feeding program began, and where our first meals were served in 2003.  

Malawi is our largest program – serving more than 1 million children every school day – and is delivered by Mary’s Meals Malawi alongside a local partner, MCSPA, who we began working with in 2020. The programme is able to reach so many children because of tens of thousands of volunteers from local communities who give their time freely to prepare and serve our nutritious meals.

Mary’s Meals operates in the majority of districts in Malawi and our program is strongly supported by the Government of Malawi. Most schools receiving Mary’s Meals are in the Southern Region, but large numbers of children are also supported in the Central and Northern regions. We also reach pre-school children who are most vulnerable to the effects of malnutrition. 

Malawi is central to the Mary’s Meals story. It was here during a famine in 2002 that Magnus met Edward, a young boy whose mother was dying from AIDS. Magnus asked Edward about his hopes and dreams and his reply – “I want to have enough food to eat and to be able to go to school one day” – inspired our mission and the work we do today.

When did we start working in Malawi?

Mary’s Meals has been serving school meals in Malawi since 2002

How many children do we feed in Malawi?

Our meals are served to more than 1,000,000 schoolchildren in Malawi

What meal do we provide?

The typical meal provided is a maize and soya porridge, known as likuni phala and fortified with essential vitamins and minerals

Where are we based/where do we operate?

We operate out of Blantyre in southern Malawi. The majority of schools receiving Mary’s Meals are in the Southern region, with large numbers also supported in both the Central and Northern regions of Malawi

What is the capital of Malawi?

Malawi's capital and largest city is Lilongwe

What language(s) are spoken in Malawi?

English is the official language in Malawi, however, only 26 percent of adults over 14 years old are proficient in the language. Chichewa is the native language of about half of Malawi's population

What currency is used in Malawi?

Malawian Kwacha (MWK)

What is the population of Malawi?

The population of Malawi is 20,664,000