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Angela Moore (L) and some volunteers from Mary's Meals, which is looking to start up a voluntary group in Clare.

Clare volunteers sought to support ‘amazing’ Mary’s Meals

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VOLUNTEERS are being sought for a Clare branch of an international organisation that provides free school meals to more than two million children in 20 countries, across Africa, Asia, Latin America, Eastern Europe, and the Caribbean.

Mary’s Meals was set up 20 years ago in Scotland and now has branches in several Irish towns, including Tuam and Tullamore. A drive has just gotten underway to recruit volunteers to run a fundraising unit in Clare. 

“We are a true ‘no frills’ organisation”, explained Angela Moore, Supporter Engagement Officer with Mary’s Meals.

“A sum of just €18.30 will feed a child every school day for the full school year. Most of the work in our programme countries, all over the world, is done by volunteers. This is a really amazing movement. We have volunteers in 20 countries, who get up every morning to support this and they even gather firewood to light the fire to cook school meals. We believe that by giving children free school meals, we will eventually end world poverty.”

The Scottish founder of Mary’s Meals, Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow, was inspired to act after seeing the devastation of the Balkans War in the 1990s.

“He started off by organising a local collection and driving across Europe, in much the same way as so many Irish people have been doing to help Ukraine,” Angela, a Roscrea native, outlined.

“He kept going out there and then set up Scottish International Relief, which became Mary’s Meals in 2002. Now, we only do school meals. We do one thing, but we do it really well.”

The hope is that voluntary fund-raising teams will get on board and back the international efforts of the charity.

“At the moment, Mary’s Meals is well known in Donegal, Cavan and Monaghan and we’re aiming to set up new committees,” Angela said.

“My role is to support those groups, but it’s very important to say that each group will decide how much or how little it can do. There are no fundraising targets set and groups can organise themselves, depending on their own circumstances. People can give general donations or they can specify a programme country they would like their funds to go to.”

Right now, Angela is gauging the level of interest in forming a Clare branch of Mary’s Meals.

“We are likely to have a group in Nenagh and I believe there will be a group too in Clare,” she said.

“If we had five people in Ennis and two in Scariff, for example, we’d then look at a central location for meetings. We have a very well-established group in Donegal, where Mary’s Meals is well known.

“We’ve had one for three or four years in Tullamore as well as groups in Tuam and Longford. They’re popping up everywhere, but we would like to see more. We believe that every child deserves to eat and to go to school and our founder firmly believes this gives people a way to break out of poverty. What we do is to provide a simple solution to world hunger.”

Angela Moore can be contacted by phone at 089-4339592 or by email to angela.moore@marysmeals.org.

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