American actress Drew Barrymore, one of the world’s most recognised film stars, has been named Ambassador Against Hunger for WFP, it was announced on Wednesday.
I can’t think of any issue that is more important than working to see that no schoolchild in this world goes hungry
Barrymore, 32, who recently returned from a second trip to Kenya to visit WFP-supported school feeding projects, joins world marathon record-holder Paul Tergat, from Kenya, as Ambassador Against Hunger.
Barrymore and Tergat, a former school feeding recipient, will focus their advocacy efforts on school feeding programs.
“I am honoured and humbled to accept this challenging and rewarding assignment,” Barrymore said Wednesday. “I can’t think of any issue that is more important than working to see that no schoolchild in this world goes hungry.
“Feeding a child at school is such a simple thing – but it works miracles. I’ve seen it with my own eyes,” she added.
“School feeding not only fills stomachs, but has a proven track record of boosting enrollment, attendance and academic performance. For just pennies a day per child, this program changes lives – and ultimately can impact the futures of poor countries around the world in a profound way,” she said.
Barrymore joins Tergat and WFP’s Executive Director, Josette Sheeran, in Washington this week to raise awareness about school feeding – and also advocate for passage of draft legislation in the US Congress that would expand and regularise funding for US-supported school feeding programmes.
The McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program, authorised in the US Farm Bill and administered by the US Department of Agriculture, feeds millions of schoolchildren each year.
Pending legislation would increase funding from the current average of US$ 100 million a year now, to about US$ 300 million a year within five years.
Tool against hunger
“The McGovern-Dole Programme has proven to be one of the most effective tools in the fight against hunger and poverty, but we have a long way to go to ensure that every child goes through school on a full stomach,” said WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran.
“We estimate that there are more than 112 million school-aged children who are undernourished and live in developing countries. School feeding provides them the opportunity to make the most of their education. It’s one of the single-best investments we can make, not only in the economic development of poor countries, but in the future collective security of our planet.”
“We are delighted to have Drew Barrymore join our team,” Sheeran added. “Her passion and commitment to changing the world for the better – and of course the respect and admiration she commands – will make her a wonderful champion for school feeding.”
In 2006, WFP fed 19.4 million children in 71 countries through school feeding programs.