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Princess of Asturias Awards 06/14/2023

Mary's Meals, Princess of Asturias Award for Concord

A non-profit organization based in the Scottish town of Dalmally, Mary’s Meals primarily aims to provide a daily school meal to school-age children in eighteen of the world’s poorest countries


The British non-profit organization Mary’s Meals has been bestowed with the 2023 Princess of Asturias Award for Concord, as announced today by the Jury responsible for conferring said Award.

The Jury for this Award –convened by the Princess of Asturias Foundation– was chaired by Adrián Barbón Rodríguez, President of the Principality of Asturias, and composed of Fernando de Almansa Moreno-Barreda, Viscount of Castillo de Almansa, Ernesto Antolin Arribas, Bernardo Calleja Fernández, Alfredo Canteli Fernández, Carlos Casanueva Varas, Manuel Contreras Caro, Jacobo Cosmen Menéndez-Castañedo, Ignacio Eyriès García de Vinuesa, Isidro Fainé Casas, Ana Isabel Fernández Álvarez, Pedro Luis Fernández Pérez, José Antonio Fernández Rivero, Luis Fernández-Vega Sanz, Sabino García Vallina, Ignacio Garralda Ruiz de Velasco, Ana González Rodríguez, Jaime Gorbeña Yllera, Eduardo Hochschild Beeck, Laureano Lourido Artime, Marcelino Marcos Líndez, Pedro Martín Barón, Enrique Moreno González, Carlos Navalpotro Fuster, José Oliu i Creus, María del Pino Calvo-Sotelo, Gregorio Rabanal Martínez, Matías Rodríguez Inciarte, Gonzalo Sánchez Martínez, Juan Sánchez-Calero Guilarte, Antonio Suárez Gutiérrez, Gonzalo Urquijo Fernández de Araoz, Manuel Villa-Cellino Torre, Ignacio Ybarra Aznar and Pedro de Silva Cienfuegos-Jovellanos (as acting secretary).

This candidature was put forward by writer María Vallejo-Nágera Zobel.

A non-profit organization based in the Scottish town of Dalmally, Mary’s Meals primarily aims to provide a daily school meal to school-age children in eighteen of the world’s poorest countries. Founded in 2002 by Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow, its origins date back to 1992, when the Bosnian war instilled in Magnus and his brother Fergus the need to help people affected by the conflict. They accordingly organized a campaign to collect aid of all kinds, which they personally took to Bosnia a few weeks later. The donations kept coming and Magnus decided to found the charity Scottish International Relief (SIR). A few years later, in 2002, a campaign against famine in Malawi led Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow to refocus the organization’s mission to provide children suffering from chronic hunger with a daily school meal and to re-found the entity under its current name: Mary’s Meals. Every day of the school year, Mary’s Meals provides a quality meal to many of the world’s most underprivileged children. Currently, the impact of its help reaches 2 429 182 children each school day in the countries where the NGO carries out its work. To achieve this goal, its founder and current executive director, Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow, devised a system that allows reducing costs to the utmost, which means that a child can be fed every day they attend school at a cost of only €22 a year. The meals are cooked and distributed at their school by volunteers from the benefitting community. Each child has their own container to eat from, as this is the way to check that they belong to a school covered by the organization and that they attend class daily. Children must go to class in order to receive the food. This is the technique used by Mary’s Meals to improve academic performance and school enrolment rates in the countries where it is present. Schooling is free at all the schools, which helps the families involved in two ways: their children not only receive an education, but also a nutritious meal that, in many cases, is their only sustenance for the day. Moreover, Mary’s Meals uses local produce to prepare the meals it serves, which are likewise reinforced with vitamin complexes to ensure a minimum nutritional standard.

Mary’s Meals is currently present in eighteen countries: Kenya, Liberia, South Sudan, Thailand, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Syria, Yemen, Niger, Ethiopia, Lebanon, Benin, Myanmar, Ecuador, Haiti, India, Madagascar and Malawi. This last country benefits from the organization’s largest school meals programme, via which it reaches more than 1 080 800 children each school day. The NGO has also provided help in emergency situations such as those following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, the 2011 typhoon in the Philippines and the famine and food shortages that affected several million people in Kenya and South Sudan in 2014. Since 2017, it has provided food to around 5040 children in seventeen schools in the Syrian city of Aleppo and, in 2018, it began providing meals to almost three hundred children imprisoned in Madagascar.

Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow has received various recognitions for the work carried out by his organization. He was included in the Top 10 CNN Heroes of 2010 and the 100 Most Influential People of 2015 according to Time magazine, and received the Livingstone Medal of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society in 2016 for his contribution to humanitarian work with a clear geographical scope.

As stated in the Statutes of the Foundation, the Princess of Asturias Awards are aimed at rewarding “the scientific, technical, cultural, social and humanitarian work carried out at an international level by individuals, institutions or groups of individuals or institutions”. In line with these principles, the Princess of Asturias Award for Concord is to be granted to “the work of defending and advancing human rights, as well as promoting and protecting peace, freedom, solidarity, world heritage and, in general, the progress of humanity”.

This year, a total of 47 candidatures comprising 18 nationalities were put forward for the Award for Concord.

This is the last of the eight Princess of Asturias Awards to be bestowed in what is now their forty-second year. Previously, the Princess of Asturias Award for the Arts was conferred on American actress Meryl Streep, the Award for Communication and Humanities went to Italian lecturer, writer and philosopher Nuccio Ordine, the Award for Social Sciences was granted to French historian Hélène Carrère d’Encausse, the Award for Sports went to Kenyan athlete Eliud Kipchoge, the Award for Literature was conferred on Japanese writer Haruki Murakami, the Award for International Cooperation was bestowed on the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) and the Award for Technical and Scientific Research went to American biologists Jeffrey I. Gordon and Peter Greenberg and American biochemist Bonnie L. Bassler.

As is customary, the presentation of the Princess of Asturias Awards will take place in October in a solemn ceremony presided over by TM The King and Queen, accompanied by TRH Leonor, Princess of Asturias, and Infanta Sofía of Spain.

Each Princess of Asturias Award comprises a Joan Miró sculpture representing and symbolizing the Award, a diploma, an insignia and a cash prize of fifty thousand euros.

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