WFP warmly congratulated Paul Tergat, WFP’s Ambassador Against Hunger, on today’s thrilling win at the New York City Marathon.
"We are tremendously proud that Paul Tergat has won yet another major marathon," said James Morris, WFP’s Executive Director. "Not only is he a great athlete but a wonderful humanitarian who is deeply dedicated to helping the world’s poor and hungry."
"Few people are better qualified to explain how food aid can transform the life of a child, said Morris.
"He exemplifies how just a small amount of help -- such as one school meal a day - can make such an incredible difference. We are very grateful to Paul for his tremendous work and commitment as a WFP Ambassador Against Hunger."
Tergat is currently the world's fastest man over 26 miles, but as a hungry child in the drought- and poverty-ridden district of Baringo, Kenya's marathon man struggled to make the three-mile trek to school.
As a child growing up in Kenya’s impoverished Rift Valley, where drought, disease and hunger were a daily reality, Tergat benefited from WFP school meals, and credits his successful athletic career to the food he received.
"Without food, it was very difficult to walk to school, let alone concentrate on our studies. WFP's lunches made it easier for us to make the most of our education," said Tergat. "A full meal was also the perfect incentive to keep us in the classroom."
WFP school meals cost just 19 US cents a day or US$ 34 a year. Research shows that school feeding dramatically increases school attendance and boosts performance in the classroom.
WFP’s Executive Director recently announced that the number of hungry people WFP is trying to feed this year in sub-Saharan Africa had climbed to 43 million -- an all-time high and double the number from a decade ago.
Morris warned that high levels of hunger threatened to destabilize the African countryside, and called for a number of actions, including more concerted political action to ensure peace.
Tergat was named a WFP Hunger Ambassador in January 2004. In addition to support he provides to WFP, he recently launched his own foundation to help develop underprivileged children into future athletes.
Tergat set a new world record for the marathon in Berlin in 2003, slicing a remarkable 43 seconds off the previous best time. He remains the world marathon record holder.