The Lunch Project transforms communities by empowering and connecting children across the globe.
The Lunch Project began with these three words. In 2011, law professor Rebecca Wofford was conducting research on international children's law at a public primary school in Tanzania when the headmaster revealed the school's greatest performance obstacle.
I learned that although most local children were enrolled in school, many were not regularly attending. After meeting with community leaders, parents, teachers, and administrators to discuss the barriers to success, I discovered that a fundamental need was not being met – the kids were not being fed at school! I thought about my two children at home, ages six and eight at the time, and how they would handle a seven-hour school day on an empty belly.
Before I left Tanzania, the headmaster at the school looked me in the eye and said, "Can you help?" I knew I had to do something for these students in Tanzania. Lunch was a simple idea but it had the potential of making a huge impact. In May of 2011, The Lunch Project was founded with the belief that providing lunch at school was a key component to enabling children to complete primary school in Tanzania.
Founder of The Lunch Project
The Lunch Project began testing its operating model in 2011 by serving lunch one day per week at Lemanyata Primary School. The supplies for uji porridge, a culturally sensitive meal in Tanzania, were purchased from local farmers. The children brought firewood from their home and buckets of clean water from the local well and carried them to the school. Local mothers (“mamas” in Swahili) were hired to cook the porridge over an open fire using the wood and water brought by the children and the ingredients from the local farmers.
The porridge was served to the children in cups they brought from home.This model worked and we continue to use it today! We are now serving lunch five days per week in three primary schools in Tanzania, with more on the horizon. By harnessing local resources, the local economy is fueled and the whole community is engaged in feeding the students!
In March 2012, we began telling children in the U.S. about our Lunch Program and the school children it serves in Tanzania. Children were eager to learn about the similarities and differences they have with their peers on the other side of the globe.
What started as a small classroom presentation has grown into a Global Empathy Education Program that empowers children in schools and clubs across Charlotte to put their empathy into action.
The Lunch Project’s Empathy Education Program has grown organically as local children began raising awareness and funds for lunches. As students themselves, they understand the need for a full belly to be able to focus and learn in school.
Whether through lemonade stands, dog walking, bake sales, sports tournaments, or any one of the many fundraising ideas that kids have come up with, they are making a difference in the world.