Joanna Casson: Mary’s Meals

Jo CassonJoanna has been working with Mary’s Meals International for the past year as a Policy and Impact Officer. This role involves researching different elements of the school feeding programme, assessing the impact of the school meals and sharing findings to help inform policy decisions both within and outside the organisation. Joanna has now been seconded to work with Mary’s Meals’ school feeding programmes in Malawi, Zambia and Kenya for three months over the summer.

Joanna will begin assessing the impact of a school meal on the very youngest children in Mary’s Meals’ school feeding programmes - those in Early Childhood Development (ECD) Centres. Parents, teachers and health professionals the world over agree on the importance of good nutrition in the early years of a child's life. Beyond the prevention of stunting, wasting and other forms of physical malnourishment, the benefits of a daily meal also extend to the child’s emotional, cognitive and even social development.

Following short scoping visits to ECD centres in Malawi and Zambia, Joanna will be spending the majority of her secondment in Turkana district in north-West Kenya. Turkana is vast, semi-arid region bordering South Sudan and Ethiopia, and constitutes one of the most food insecure areas of Kenya. The Turkana people continue to live a semi-nomadic lifestyle and make up one of the largest remaining pastoral groups in Kenya. High poverty levels, harsh terrain and increasing incidences of drought and flooding make Turkana's pre-school children some of the most vulnerable in the country.

Joanna will be supporting the team in Turkana as they expand the school feeding programme to reach more hungry children with a meal in their ECD centre every school day. She will also be using this time to design and set up a research project to assess the impact of Mary’s Meals’ work in this region.

Joanna is grateful for the prayers from her
St Andrew Blackadder family and says:

“It was by the love and support of St Andrew Blackadder church and by God’s grace that I was able to encounter Mary’s Meals for the first time aged just 15 as a student of the first NBHS Music for Malawi visit. Since then, I have seen God work through the many thousands of hands that prepare, organise and donate to our school meals all over the world. I deeply appreciate your prayers as I embark on thisnext stage and I am thankful for all the support that has helped me reach here. ”

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