Mary’s Meals feeds nearly 2.5million hungry children every school day.
A Scottish charity has warned that the cost of feeding children in the world’s poorest countries has risen by an unprecedented 20%.
Mary’s Meals has said it faces significant challenges in delivering its international school feeding programme in 2023.
The charity, which was founded in a shed in Argyll, serves nutritious school meals in 18 countries, including Malawi, Yemen and Haiti.
The promise of food attracts hungry children into the classroom, where they can gain an education that can be their ladder out of poverty.
Increases in prices for commodities – such as grain, fuel and fertiliser – mean the cost to feed a child with Mary’s Meals for a school year has increased from £15.90 to £19.15. This is the largest increase in the charity’s 20-year history.
Daniel Adams, executive director of Mary’s Meals, says: “An uncertain year lies ahead, with the escalating cost of living causing much pain for both the children around the world who eat our school meals and those here in Scotland who make our work possible.
“Simply put, our income is not growing at the same rate as the cost of feeding children.”
Mary’s Meals feeds 2,429,182 children every school day.
Alongside the cost of living crisis, many of the countries where the charity works are impacted by conflict, climate change and the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic which are increasing levels of hunger and poverty.
Mr Adams added: “There has never been a better – or more urgent – time to support our work. Until 31 January 2023, donations to Mary’s Meals will be matched by a group of generous supporters, up to £1.5 million.
“This means that any donation, no matter the size, will have twice the impact and help even more desperately hungry children.
“The relentless kindness and generosity of people here in Scotland have helped us to grow from feeding just 200 children in Malawi in 2002 to more than 2.4 million children around the world today.
“It is because of these people that we approach the many challenges we face in 2023 with a deep sense of hope.”