WFP/Claire Nevill

Lifting Lives in Uganda With The Promise of a School Meal

How one foundation in Kentucky is nourishing the dreams of children in Uganda.

Josephine Nakwang was one of more than 100,000 boys and girls in 300 schools across the Karamoja region of Uganda who received school meals from the U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) last year, thanks to a $3 million, three-year grant from the Lift a Life Foundation.

“Studying was not easy because my mother kept telling me to drop out of school and help her with domestic work,” Josephine recalled. “I continued going to the school until she finally gave in. Nowadays, she tells me to take my younger sisters to school so that they can have meals too.”

Created by the co-founder and retired chairman and CEO of Yum! Brands, David Novak and his wife Wendy, the Lift a Life Foundation partners with organizations that have the leadership capability, the know-how and the personal passion to help communities in need reach their full potential. Their support for WFP’s school meals program in Uganda is the largest international grant in the foundation’s history.

“Research has shown that school meals prevent children from dropping out of school,” said the foundation’s Executive Director, Ashley Butler. “Lift-a-Life’s partnership with WFP USA furthers our goal of providing those in need with the opportunity to unleash their full potential.”

The Karamoja region is home to approximately 1 million people and has the highest poverty and undernutrition rates in the country. School meals from WFP are often the only meal that vulnerable children can rely on. These nourishing meals enable vulnerable households to keep their children—especially girls—in the classroom by easing the burden of putting food on the table. Since the launch of the foundation’s grant, the number of girls attending school in Karamoja has increased 47 percent.

My dream is to become a nurse like my late auntie or work for WFP because they have made me what I am.

Josephine Nakwang, a student at the Nariamaoi Primary School in Uganda.

In addition to delivering vital nutrition to help students stay strong and healthy, these school meals also provide energy to stay focused and succeed.

As the world’s largest provider of school meals, WFP reached 16.4 million children in 60 countries in 2016. By empowering children to receive an education, school meals are one of the most effective ways to break the cycle of poverty and hunger. And at an average cost of 25 cents, school meals are also one of the most cost-effective solutions.

“My dream is to become a nurse like my late auntie or work for WFP because they have made me what I am,” Josephine says.

On behalf of children like Josephine, WFP USA thanks the Lift a Life Foundation for feeding the dreams of students in need.