Photo: WFP/Mohammed Awadh/2022

In Our Hands, $15 Becomes 60 School Meals for Young Girls Like Ferdous in Yemen

World Food Program USA
Published December 14, 2022

It may seem like $15 dollars wouldn’t make any difference in places like Yemen where the humanitarian needs are overwhelming. “Pocket change thrown at a catastrophe,” you might say. But you’d be wrong. For young girls like Ferdous whose health and education are on the line, $15 can be life-changing.

For more than 15 million children across the globe, a school meal or snack from the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is the only meal many will have each day. In conflict zones like Yemen, this daily supply of food keeps children in the classroom and brings a sense of consistency to an otherwise unpredictable life. For only $15 dollars, the U.N. World Food Programme could send a child enough school meals for three months.  

Meet Ferdous in Mokha, Yemen

Every day, as the morning sun fills her classroom with light, 11-year-old Ferdous passes out High Energy Biscuits (HEBs) to her classmates, courtesy of the U.N. World Food Programme.

“I love to distribute (school meals) to my classmates. I feel like I am like their big sister,” she says.

Ferdous holds book and biscuit
Photo: WFP/Mohammed Awadh/2022

Since the war began seven years ago, Ferdous and her family have fled their homes multiple times in search of safety – but violence followed wherever they went.

“We fled to my father’s village. Then, we were displaced to Al Hodeidah and then moved to Mokha,” Ferdous recalled.

Now safe and settled in Mokha, Ferdous is in the 5th grade at a U.N. World Food Programme-supported school where she and her classmates receive daily fortified snacks. She wants to become a doctor, a dream that is closer to becoming reality thanks to the nutrition and education she can depend on.

Ferdous sits with classmates
Photo: WFP/Mohammed Awadh/2022

“If I study, I will become a doctor and treat people from my family and others,” Ferdous said. “If a girl works, she will serve her homeland, family and everyone. She will work for them.”

In conflict-affected countries, children’s education is constantly disrupted by violence and displacement. School meals from the U.N. World Food Programme provide children with nutritious foods and put them on the path to a healthy, fulfilling life.

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The Lifelong Impact of WFP’s School Meals

At such a young age, Ferdous already understands the immense impact school meals have on all children’s futures, but especially for girls. Here’s a closer look at the long-term impact of our school meals program:

  • School meals help parents reroute their money to other pressing needs like hygiene items, healthcare or rent, which are just as critical as food for young boys and girls.
  • For girls facing the perils of gender inequality, school meals are a key intervention for keeping them in the classroom instead of helping around the house or married at a young age.
  • School meals keep children nourished and focused on their studies. This fights childhood hunger and helps them learn the skills they need to succeed.
  • Healthy, educated children can grow up to find work, become leaders in their communities and raise their own families one day. By receiving an education and avoiding the irreversible effects of childhood malnutrition, they have the cognitive and physical abilities to build a healthy life for themselves.

When you give to World Food Program USA, your dollars can kickstart this positive domino effect. As Ferdous says, she can grow up and become a doctor to “serve her homeland, family and everyone” – thanks to the nutritious food she receives from the U.N. World Food Programme.

Children eating school meals in Sierra Leone
Photo: WFP/Michael Duff/2022

Here’s What You Need to Know About WFP and School Meals

  1. Every day, millions of children enter the classroom on an empty stomach – struggling to focus on their lessons. Millions more are kept home to help with chores or work alongside their parents.
  2. The U.N. World Food Programme helps keep more than 15 million children in the classroom through school meals, snacks and take-home ingredients.
  3. A $15 gift to World Food Program USA is enough to provide 60 children with a school meal that can set them on the road to healthy, prosperous futures.

Why should you trust us? Because the U.N. World Food Programme has a 60+ year history of doing exactly what it says it will: saving and changing lives. And it all starts with you. Let us put your dollars to work this giving season and create a world without hunger – one meal at a time.

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