Tag Archives: School Meals

Milk Matters: Heifer International School Milk Feeding Program

Milk Matters: Heifer International School Milk Feeding Program

Photo Courtesy of Heifer International

We visited Peru, the Tibetan region of China, and Ghana all in one day. Our tour guide of the replica villages at Heifer Farms in Rutland, Massachusetts explained the varied sustainable farming and livestock practices in the various countries and the contributions of Heifer International along the way. The replica global villages at the educational farm facility were an hour drive from our home, but it took us a world away. It introduced my kids to what a rural, pastoralist or agricultural community in a developing country might look like.

It was on our family trip to Tanzania this past summer, roughly a year after our visit to Heifer Farms, that I watched my kids worlds crack wide open as they witnessed that theoretical knowledge first hand. Both the Maasai and the Datoga tribes of Tanzania whom we visited are pastoralists, cattle is their currency. As we watched clouds of dust fill the horizon along the savanna a small boy, around the same age as my youngest son, herded his cattle on the side of the packed earth road. I turned to my son and said, “If you were born here that could be you.”   He chuckled a bit at the thought and then with a more pensive look replied, “It’s amazing to see how different kids’ lives are here from my own.” I think I heard angels singing in that moment! The reason we travel with our children to far-flung places is exactly to get that point across. All around the world people are so similar at the core, yet we live in such varied cultures and circumstances.


Photo: Elizabeth Atalay Kids inside the Maasai Schoolroom enjoying treats we brought for them.



Photo: Elizabeth Atalay The exterior of the one room school house in the Maasai village

The day we visited the Maasai village we were able to peek in on an adorable kindergarten class in their one room thatched hut schoolhouse. They sang us their ABC’s and stole our hearts. Our guide Adam had grown up Maasai and spoke about the unique nutritional challenges of the Maasai diet with increasingly erratic climate issues. We could see how dry the land was while we were there, draught had stretched longer than usual the past couple of years impacting the livestock and the lives of those who depend on them for life. This brings us back to the work that Heifer International is doing with pastoralist communities around the world including Tanzania.  Since 2008 Heifer International’s program in Tanzania has worked to help dairy farmers develop sustainable practices to enhance milk production. Heifer is expanding the program to create more diverse markets for farmers and with the help of those farmers along with government agencies, and the school districts, Heifer’s School Milk Feeding Program has been created to provide milk for children who lack proper daily nutrition. We know that if children are hungry it is difficult for them to focus on school, so not only does the program improve learning and nutrition in children, but provides a reliable market for local dairy farmers.


Infographic Courtesy of Heifer International

Right around the time my family and I were visiting Tanzania in July of 2017 Heifer launched the Heifer School Milk Feeding Program to bring Heifer’s work with communities full circle. The roll out began by providing students in the Njombe region free fresh packets of pasteurized milk every school day.  Each 200ml packet of milk contains at least a quarter of daily calcium requirements for children.  Eventually the goal is to reach 9,000 students age 9 and under the Njombe, Iringa, Mbeya, and Songwe regions with fresh milk packets Monday through Friday during the school year.

Our family now has a way to stay connected to the children we met in Tanzania. Supporting the Heifer School Milk Program for just 40 cents a day ($75.00 for a whole year) provides fresh milk to one student  for a year. In honor of School Milk Day on September 27th we plan to donate to the Heifer School Milk Feeding Program, not only to help provide proper nutrition to a child in need but to also positively impact communities by Increasing farmers’ incomes and help in reducing poverty.

To make an impact you can make a donation of any size! Just $75 can provide one student with fresh milk for a school year (that’s just 40 cents a day)!

This post was written in partnership with Heifer International, as always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

With The Lunch Money Challenge From the World Food Program USA You Can Help #FeedADream

With The Lunch Money Challenge From the World Food Program USA You Can Help #FeedADream

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During a conference call with the World Food Program USA, over the phone from Kenya, Fatuma Mohamed credited the school meals program with helping to get her where she is today. Fatuma is a senior programme assistant with the World Food Programme in Dadaab, Kenya with a university degree.  Not the outcome that would normally have been predicted for the Somalian daughter of a financially struggling widow growing up in Kenya’s northeastern province. At that time, the Somali community did not even believe in allowing girls to go to school.

Her mother had little money and faced hostility from their family because she refused to be inherited as Fatuma’s father’s brother’s wife. Although her mother had no formal education herself, she knew how important an education would be to her children.


Fatuma Mohamed

Not only did sending her children to school provide the education that enabled Fatuma to avoid her destiny to drop out of school to tend cattle, but through the World Food Program Fatuma and her siblings were provided a school meal each day. For some children living in poverty, that school meal provided may be their ONLY meal of the day.

In the developing world, 66 million kids come to school hungry each day. many children don’t attend school at all. Poverty and tradition often exclude girls from education.

In Nairobi, Kenya, less than half of school-age children attend formal schools, due to poverty, safety and girls being unfairly excluded from school.

Malnutrition at an early age leads to reduced physical and mental development. Hungry kids in school focus on their empty stomachs, not their studies.

School meals can be life-changing for the world’s poorest children. School meals also help to get students into the classroom, giving them an important key to a better future—an education.

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) provides school meals to more than 24 million children each year. School feeding also gives poor families an incentive to send children to school, especially girls.

25 cents provides a child with a nutritious meal, $50 provides school lunch for a child for an entire year.

 From October 14th to october 18th The World Food Program USA Invites you to take part in The Lunch Money Challenge.

Research tells us that nearly $2,000.00 a year is spent on average to eat lunch out at work by the two-thirds of Americans who do.  If a person brought their lunch and donated the money they otherwise would have spent to buy it, then donated that money to the World Food Program USA‘s Lunch Money Challenge this week, they could feed a hungry school child for a year.

WFPUSA works with countries interested in owning and managing their school meals programs, to make them strong and sustainable. Helping communities become self sufficient is one of the ways that WFPUSA is solving hunger worldwide, by working with local governments, schools and farmers to build programs that are long lasting sustainable and cost-effective and when the WFPUSA work is done, local governments can take over and manage these programs. Home-grown school meals from local family farmers lift up the entire community—local ingredients mean both local children and local farmers can thrive.  When school meal programs are linked with local family farmers, kids receive home-grown school meals. Not only do home-grown school meals programs improve child nutrition, they also boost local economies.

Photo Courtesy of WFP USA

Photo Courtesy of WFP USA

These days Fatuma encourages the girls she works with in the program to stay in school. When girls stay in school they tend to marry at an older age, have fewer children, and increase their earning potential.  Fatuma’s relationship with the World Food Program goes back to when she was just 7 years old and she serves as a great example of the programs ability to transform lives.

 “Women are the foundation of every society and girls grow into women and need to be supported. Nothing can move forward in the world without women, mothers, and girls.”-Fatuma Mohamed

World Food Program USA (WFP USA) works to solve global hunger by supporting the work of the united nations World Food programme (WFP) through fundraising, advocacy and education in the united nations. WFP works in over 75 countries, saving lives in emergencies, providing school meals to hungry children, improving nutrition of the most vulner- able people at critical times in their lives and helping build the self-reliance of people and communities.

missionlistlogo copy*This sponsored post is part of a campaign with The Mission List and the World Food Program USA. All opinions are my own. Facts from the WFPUSA.

My Summer in Bolivia and What The The World Food Programme Is Doing There Now

My Summer in Bolivia and What The The World Food Programme Is Doing There Now

Photo by Elizabeth Atalay

Boarding the cargo plane to San Ignacio

We held tightly to the ropes that held the crates of beer to the floor upon landing, and squealed as we hovered  slightly before coming back down hard .  So that’s why seatbelts on planes are so important! As the door opened we were hit with steamy air, thick with humidity and the scent of verdant earth. We had arrived in San Ignacio, Bolivia, in the middle of the jungle.   I turned to my friend Maria as we climbed down to the dirt runway, and exclaimed breathlessly, “you never told me”!   Maria has been my best friend since high school, and though we grew up in the same town outside of Boston, she had spent the year after her parents split up when she was 13, in Bolivia, where they were from.  San Ignacio, was the town her mother had grown up in, and where her grandparents still lived.  Chickens ran through the open structure of the home, and you poured buckets of water brought from the lake over you for showers in the outdoor shower stall.  I had never seen any place so beautiful, so wild, and natural in my entire life.  As we stepped off the cargo plane we had taken to get there, I was totally blown away.

Photo by Elizabeth Atalay

We spent the summer between sophomore and junior year of College in Bolivia visiting Maria’s relatives and traveling around the country.  I was struck by the economic extremes, while we stayed at one cousin’s house in the suburbs of La Paz, we met wealthy Bolivian kids who took us to the nightclubs in their BMW’s and had households full of staff.  This was contrasted by shacks climbing the sides of the hills that lined the city of La Paz where we stayed with her Aunt, there seemed to be no middle class, just ultra rich or what in the U.S.A. we would consider extremely poor.  Our summer in Bolivia was filled with crazy South American adventures of all kinds, and it cracked open my world. The people, food, landscapes and culture of Bolivia found a permanent place in my heart.

Photo by Elizabeth Atalay

When I heard about the World Food Program initiative to provide meals to school children in Bolivia I wanted to take part.  As a member of the Global Team of 200, a highly specialized group of Mom Bloggers for Social Good that concentrates on issues involving women and girls, children, world hunger and maternal health committed to Social Good, we are committed to spreading the word about important programs such as this.  The World Food Programme is part of the United Nations System and, is the world’s largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide. The WFP provides meals to 80,000 children in Bolivia, which is one of the poorest countries in South America. Malnutrition causes stunting in 40% of the children in the poorest areas of Bolivia, and the World Food Program is working to break the cycle of hunger so the kids can get the nutrition they need to stay in school and to achieve their full potential.  

You can make one of the children benefitting from this program extremely happy by simply sending a message to one of the school children in Bolivia. There a communications officer will translate and share your messages with the kids as well as translate and deliver their answers back to you. Click here to send your message now.

Photo by Elizabeth Atalay