News of the Knights of St Columba Liverpool Province

The remarkable story of Mary's Meals

One of the worthy causes supported by the Knights of St Columba is Mary's Meals, a charity established by a former Scottish fish farmer which today provides over one million nutritious school meals daily to some of the world's poorest children.

The precise number is 1,035,637 in 12 countries across Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean – with the contribution of supporters including the KSC helping the number of children receiving meals rise by more than 45,000 alone since the beginning of 2015.

The charity's founder and CEO, Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow, has said it is remarkable to think that a million children are now eating Mary's Meals every day in some of the world's poorest countries – and the origins of his aid work only underline the scale of his achievements.

MacFarlane-Barrow originally set up a charity, Scottish International Relief (SIR), in 1992 to take aid supplies to Medjugorje during the Balkan conflict. Mary's Meals grew out of SIR in 2002 after he visited Malawi during a famine and met a mother dying of AIDS.

When he asked the woman's eldest son Edward what his dreams were in life, the response was a simple wish to have enough food to eat and to go to school one day. In that encounter lay the origins of Mary's Meals. It was a project both simple in concept and extremely effective in practice – locals supplied the cooking, volunteers staffed the catering facilities and Mary's Meals provided the raw materials financed by charitable giving and fund-raising projects.

MacFarlane-Barrow, 47, has received much praise for the efforts of his organisation in helping the poor. He was recently included in the list of Britain's Top 100 Catholics compiled by The Tablet to celebrate its 175th anniversary and he has been described as one of the world's 100 most influential people by Time magazine.

You can find out more about this project and how to donate by visiting, or alternately read MacFarlane-Barrow's extraordinary story in his book The Shed That Fed a Million Children.

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