Media CenterIn Mali, More Than Just a Meal: Food For Education

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Michael Stulman
Catholic Relief Services
[email protected]
+221 78-465-5619

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DAKAR, SENEGAL, March 9, 2016 – The meal that more than 77,000 students in Mali receive at school every day is not the only nourishment they are receiving from Catholic Relief Services (CRS).

The third phase of CRS’ Food for Education (FFE) program – launched in the Mopti and Koulikoro regions of Mali thanks to continued support from the USDA McGovern-Dole Food for Education and Child Nutrition program – also includes greater support and training of teachers, critical to improve the quality of education.

Part of the five year, $30 million program’s holistic approach to education includes activities that will support increased school enrollment and sustained attendance. To avoid missing school days, students will take home rations, provisions of Vitamin A and de-worming medications. Enrollment campaigns and school support groups are also aimed at increasing attendance.

“It was wonderful to see so many girls in the school I visited in Takoutala,” said CRS’ chief operating officer and vice president of Caritas Internationalis, Sean Callahan, who traveled to Mali to attend the launch of FFE’s third phase, visiting a school near Kona, in the Mopti region, where CRS’ school feeding program was implemented. “It is proven that an education for a girl not only increases the possibility for a better livelihood, but also has an impact on their families. An educated woman shares her knowledge and she sees to it that they are well-fed and in good health.”

CRS in Mali focuses on education for the most vulnerable and marginalized children, targeting schools that have the highest levels of child poverty and malnutrition and the lowest attendance rates.

School feeding programs like FFE not only encourage children to enroll in school and attend regularly, they also provide essential nutrients, improving children’s ability to learn. This meal is also an incentive for parents to see that their children attend school as it means that limited family funds will not be depleted by the cost of midday meals.

“We are grateful for the continuous support of the Malian Ministry of Education to continue working on this project,” said Niek de Goeij, CRS’ country representative in Mali. “We aim for the school kitchens to become self-sustained by the time this phase ends in 2020 and we look forward to working with our partners on this in the coming years. We are confident that with government and community ownership, children will continue to go to school, be well nourished and flourish.”

The program is implemented in partnership with CARITAS, AMPRODE Sahel, Guamina, and Education Development Center (EDC). 

For the development of this program, CRS worked very closely with counterparts in relevant Government of Mali ministries at the national, regional, and district levels as well as with local civil society partners.

Working in Mali since 1999, CRS has proven experience coordinating complex, multi-stakeholder emergency and development projects and has established offices in Bamako, Mopti, and Gao, and programming in all regions of the country, excluding Kidal.


Catholic Relief Services is the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States. The agency alleviates suffering and provides assistance to people in need in more than 100 countries, without regard to race, religion or nationality. CRS’ relief and development work is accomplished through programs of emergency response, HIV, health, agriculture, education, microfinance and peacebuilding. For more information, please visit or and follow CRS on social media: Facebook, @CatholicRelief@CRSnewsYouTube, Instagram and Pinterest.

Michael Stulman

West and Central Africa - Regional Information Officer

Michael Stulman
March 9, 2016

Based in Dakar, Senegal...More