TUCO visit Malawi to discover how its donations provide essential school meals 

Matthew White, chairman, and Mike Haslin, CEO of The University Caterers Organisation (TUCO) have visited Malawi to discover first-hand how TUCO members’ generous donations have positively affected their school children. 

The trip was taken in conjunction with Mary’s Meals, a charity providing life-changing meals to children every school day. During the visit, TUCO went to four schools, of which TUCO proudly sponsor two; Mlambe Primary School and Milare Primary School. TUCO has donated enough funds to ensure these two schools can provide a meal every school day to its children until 2020. 

Since 2002, Mary’s Meals has grown from serving 200 meals to children in Malawi to more than 1.2m in 15 countries worldwide, including Haiti, Thailand, India and China. It achieves this for just £13.90 per year per child on average. On each school day, children are given a cup of porridge, full of nutrients. 

Both White and Haslin said their experience was a ‘humbling one’ and have pledged to set higher donation targets for coming years and if possible extend the partnership beyond 2020. 

Matthew White, commented: “To experience the sheer volume of children, all looking so happy and content was a delight to see. We are pleased to see the money we have raised directly means children in Malawi are able to have a meal in school, full of all the nutrients they need.” 

Because the schools are remote, ingredient deliveries are made monthly. All cooks are volunteers and take it in turn to contribute their time to the scheme. A chart is drawn up to record the consistency of the porridge distributed, to ensure the output and quality is correct and nothing goes to waste. 

Mike Haslin, CEO of TUCO, added: “It was great to see the importance placed on the integrity of the food. The staff were honest, and keen to make sure they upheld Mary’s Meals values. The teachers always ensured the children would eat first. If there was any left over, then the teachers and the cooks could have some, but only then. It really is a remarkable scheme they are operating.” 

White continued: “This scheme is completely life changing. What’s great to see is how it helps break the poverty cycle. Children are going on to achieve better grades. By encouraging students to be educated through this scheme, Malawi is starting to resource itself in terms of the professionals that it needs.” 

Matthew White has spearheaded the TUCO campaign to support Marys Meals since he became chair. He has delivered numerous innovations to raise funds and at the end of this financial year, TUCO will have returned more than £100,000 to the charity. 

For example, during TUCO’s annual conference in July, TUCO presented a cheque of £18,140 to charity Mary’s Meals. £13,900 was raised from the TUCO team climbing the UK’s largest mountain, Ben Nevis in Scotland, and the additional donations were made by attendees at the conference itself. The money has gone on to feed an astonishing 1,305 school children suffering the effects of extreme poverty in the world’s poorest communities, for a whole school year. 

Previously to Mary’s Meals working in these Malawi schools, there was no meal offering in place. While speaking to the local people there a gentleman complimented TUCO by saying “This is a great thing that you are doing. The children are happy, they are nourished. This is good!” 

For more information about TUCO and the scheme, visit www.tuco.ac.uk.

Alternatively, visit https://www.marysmeals.org.uk/fundraising/project/matthew-white/onwards-and-upwards-the-tuco-trek to find out more information and to make a donation. 

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