Select Page

How the Other Half Lives

How the Other Half Lives

Today, just to be different, we are not going to regale you with tales of how we stretched ten crates of veg and fruit to feed 30 households with hot food, artisan rolls and a 10p ‘tough’ bag full of fresh produce. We did all that: 🎆🎇🏆🏆🏆 Duncan, Clive, Gordon, Susan, Fred, Adele and Feston all helped me do the usual run, cope with itsfaux-pas and foibles and – in the process – hopefully cheer up some of the more socially isolated people on our runs. Clive cooked two different soups (one for me and the allergic recipient, one for everyone else) and for the stalwart volunteers he produced free-range chicken in a multiple berry marinade with rice and corn on the cob. Really, folks…why are you not here on a Sunday afternoon? I don’t eat this well all week! 😋

This time, I will be taking you on a journey to view a few other food-centred organisations; some close to home, others with an all-pervading global impact. First off is one close to my friend Stevie’s heart; Mary’s Meals.

Neil’s Meals
Mary's Meals Logo
Founded 1992 (SIR) 2002 (Mary’s Meals)
Focus School Feeding
Area served
Developing World

Mary’s Meals is a registered charity, formerly known as Scottish International Relief (SIR), which sets up school feeding programmes in some of the world’s poorest communities, where hunger and poverty prevent children from gaining an education.[1] It was founded in 2002 and has grown from its first feeding operation of 200 children in Malawi, to a worldwide campaign, providing free school meals in hundreds of schools and feeding more than one million [2] children daily. Mary’s Meals is named after Mary, the mother of Jesus, by its founders, who were inspired by their Catholic faith, although the charity is not a Catholic organisation.[3]

SIR began in 1992 during the Balkan conflict, when Magnus and Fergus MacFarlane-Barrow organised a local appeal for blankets and food. They filled a Jeep with aid and delivered their cargo to Medjugorje in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The brothers, aged 25 and 27, returned to Scotland expecting to resume work as fish farmers, but in their absence their parents’ shed had been filled with yet more donations.

Magnus took a ‘gap year’, to deliver the aid for as long as it was needed, and has never gone back to his old job. The donations didn’t stop – they still haven’t – so the project was registered as a charity, then named as Scottish International Relief.

During a trip to Malawi in 2002, Magnus met a family whose predicament was to spark a change in not only his own life, but in the lives of millions of others.

Lying on the floor of a hut was a mother named Emma, who was dying of AIDS. Her six children were gathered around her and Magnus asked the eldest son, Edward, what it was that he hoped for in life. “To have enough to eat and to go to school one day,” was his answer.

Edward’s words inspired a mission to attract girls and boys to school by providing Mary’s Meals. One step at a time, through Mary’s Meals, Magnus has let children all over the world know they matter.

From feeding just 200 children in southern Malawi in 2002, the charity now works with communities in 12 different countries around the world, proving a meal for 1,187,104 children every school day.

Mary’s Meals is a simple idea that works. A daily meal in school has a positive impact on enrolment, attendance and performance in class, and could even hold the key to eradicating child hunger altogether. The global average cost of feeding a child for a whole school year with Mary’s Meals is just £13.90 💚💛💜💝💞💖💕

Here we have people with Faith in Jesus, who wanted to spread love and plenty all around the world! Second on my Food list is Liberty Disaster Relief.

Are you experiencing a Liberty Disaster?

LDR are a clearinghouse for all those touched by disaster. They have a clothes closet, food pantry, ministry houses, 24/7 prayer and a host of other services and information. LDR mean to meet the needs of those in natural and spiritual disasters. LDR believe God still heals.

Located in Liberty, Missouri and their first priority is on the needs of the local community, but they aren’t named “Liberty Disaster Relief” just because they’re here to help with personal and community disasters in Liberty – but because people everywhere are having LIBERTY disasters and they want to help. 🚑 🚒 🚓 🚚

These folks were helpful in beginning Cook-Inn, as their leader – Doug Perry – made a Youtube video stating that, just like the law made in the USA in 2012, David Cameron when he was in power made up the ‘Good Samaritan Act 2014. This Act protects people from being gratuitously sued for trying to do good. Doctors who’d performed the Heilmich Manouvre used to be regularly sued by the people they saved – they maybe broke a rib in the process, but at least folk were alive to sue them! As we all know, what happens in America comes through here eventually. Nice to know it sometimes has a positive effect. This video (and my later research confirming Doug’s words) gave me confidence that a novice like myself could explore the idea of starting up a Food Project without bitterly regretting it. 🍩🍪🍫🍲🍳🍵

The Real Junk Food Project Edinburgh

The Real Junk Food Project Edinburgh is a proud associate of the charity of the same name, founded in Leeds in 2013, and now an expanding and exciting UK-wide network of cafés and communities.

The aim of the project is to raise awareness of the issue of food waste, help people to eat and cook better and instigate change towards a more sustainable, efficient and just food system.

They intercept food before it goes to landfill. They cook it. They serve it to all comers on a Pay As You Feel basis.

Working with supermarkets and smaller retailers, farms and other producers, and consumers they try to reduce waste at all levels of the supply chain. The Pay As You Feel (PAYF) policy encourages a mixed demographic to be involved in the project, allowing the food poor and those with means to pay for their food to eat together, developing a sense of community and awareness of local food insecurity. The aim is that this will also get people thinking about the value of food as a resource in a different way. I visited these guys and volunteered at their Pop-Up Kitchen. Their approach to food was unique, and I learnt that things need not be viewed on an ‘at point of need’ basis. 🍸🍹☕🍺🍻🍯🍮🍭🍦🍟🍞🍠🍡

Well, that little taster is a small idea of how other people see food, and what can be achieved if we break out of the commonly held view that the availability of food and the level of someone’s personal wealth need be connected. I could go on, but I want my bed sometime tonight and we all know I can talk – or write – for hours! Please feel free to expand your own horizons on this subject. Since the advent of Google this has never been easier. For now, rest assured that the cats are both well-fed and happy – even if the older one, Romany, is well into his dotage. Even now, he remains on his chosen table with food and water close by; while his brother Reiver thunders around the garden evading all attempts by Duncan to persuade him in for the night. Hark… is that our lawn sprinklers I hear, coming to his aid? ☔☔☔🐌🐌🐌🐛🐜🐝🐞

God bless, all.

Look forward to seeing you next week.    Janine. xx

About The Author


  1. JOn

    People all over the world…..join hands. …form a food chain…food chain.

    Super read.

    • Janine Johnstone

      Thank you Jon. ☺


Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


We are a Musselburgh base organisation that seeks to make the best of food products by recycling products. That is we collect food donated to us and run cooking classes using some of them then share the finish delicacies with various service users here and in parts of Edinburgh. Check out when our next Cook-Inn class is and make a reservation to be a part of this great local initiative. Contact us for more details.


Recent Comments