Mary supports World Food Day in Parliament
The scent of a Magic Porridge Pot wafted through the corridors Westminster on 13 October, as Wakefield MP and Shadow Secretary for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Mary Creagh, sampled a breakfast that is transforming the lives of thousands of children in Africa.
Mary’s Meals, a charity that runs school feeding projects in developing countries, invited politicians to try a mug of the corn-soya-blend porridge, or ‘likuni phala’, that it provides for more than 350,000 children across Malawi every school day.
The event in Portcullis House marked World Porridge Day, which was on Sunday (October 10), and World Food Day, (October 16th) and was hosted by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Agriculture and Food for Development, a cross party initiative aiming at bringing together Parliamentarians concerned with agriculture, nutrition and wider food security in the developing world.
While the 'taste test' was a celebration of an international dish, it also gave MPs the opportunity to learn more about the role that school feeding projects play in countries such as Malawi, Liberia and Haiti – providing hungry children with a guaranteed source of nutrition and an incentive to go to school.
The Brothers Grimm story about the porridge pot that magically refills itself is a tale that might appeal to members of all parties in the current climate of looming cuts, but it also resonates with Mary’s Meals, which guarantees a daily meal in school to children who are often more used to working or scavenging for their food.
“Mary’s Meals provides more than 350,000 children in Malawi with a meal of ‘likuni phala’ every school day for just £6.15 a year,” says Abeer Macintyre, Mary’s Meals lead fundraiser.
“The porridge is nutritious and filling, and in a country that is regularly devastated by food shortages, the guarantee of a meal every day can have an incredible effect. That such a small amount of money goes such a long way may seem like magic, but it’s down to the contributions of local volunteers, and the fact that we can source ingredients locally.”
MPs from across the parties attended the event, and just as with the original Magic Porridge Pot, there were seconds – and thirds – for anyone who wanted them.
Likuni Phala was developed by nutritionists and is recommended by Save the Children. It contains, maize, soya, vitamins, minerals and some sugar.
For information on the All Party Parliamentary Group on Agriculture and Food for Development go to www.agricultureandfoodfordevelopment.org