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Nobel Peace Prize-winning anti-hunger agency official meets online with Grauer School students

Grauer students Zoom with Mirjam Jaring
Grauer students Zoom with Mirjam Jaring
(Courtesy)

Grauer School students got a first-hand briefing on the problem of world hunger during a Zoom call with a member of the United Nations World Food Programme, which won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2020 for its efforts to aid those suffering from hunger in conflict zones and areas devastated by natural disasters.

Considered the world’s largest humanitarian organization, the World Food Programme, or WFP, distributes about 15 billion meals to hungry people each year, at a cost of about 61 cents per meal, according to the organization’s website. In 2019, the agency helped 97 million people in 88 countries.

Mirjam Jaring, WFP representative
Mirjam Jaring, WFP representative
(Courtesy)

On Tuesday, Jan. 12, Grauer students and teachers participated in a Zoom call with Mirjam Jaring, who is based in Rome, where the WFP is headquartered. Jaring told the group that her agency has some 19,000 employees worldwide, mostly based in the field. They rely on a network of trucks, ships and planes to carry food to trouble spots around the globe.

“The discussion allowed our students to learn about the WFP’s vital work to save lives and change lives around the world, and hopefully it will inspire them to do their part to assist those in need, both during their school careers and after they go out into the world as the leaders of tomorrow,” said Stuart Grauer, Head of School and founder of the Grauer School. “It was a global expedition without traveling!”

Jaring said the WFP’s mission has two key components – delivering food in an emergency and helping communities become self-reliant and independent, so they are no longer at risk of food instability. When it comes to war, famine and natural disasters, the WFP goes to the most difficult and dangerous places imaginable, and is often one of the first assistance programs to offer aid.

The Nobel Prize winning agency has a variety of programs for those in need, including delivery of fresh food that people can prepare for themselves, prepared hot meals and high energy biscuits, and cash and food vouchers where appropriate.

Among the group’s programs is one that provides meals to school children, as a means of alleviating hunger and encouraging children to go to school. The program also provides take-home meals the children can carry home to their families, Jaring said. Grauer noted that students at The Grauer School have participated in similar programs around the local San Diego community.

Another program helps farmers provide food to local schools, building up the community’s food resilience and helping to eradicate hunger over the long-term, Jaring said. Grauer envisions further development of the school’s garden and orchard to table program, utilizing the school’s teaching kitchen.

According to Jaring, the WFP subsists on donations from governments, private companies and individuals.

In 2019 alone, the group raised $8 billion, which was a record, but still fell short of need in a world where one of nine people doesn’t have enough to eat. The United States is the largest donor to the program.

After Jaring gave a brief presentation and showed a video about the WFP’s work, she took questions from the students and teachers. Juniors and seniors from Grauer’s U.S. History, English and Economics classes participated.

Grauer Senior Ella Greiner said, “It was very inspiring and a powerful message. Especially now, with the pandemic, it gave me a bit of hope.”

Grauer Junior Lucy Stockton said “It was interesting and exciting to think about all of the possible things we can do in our lives. It made me want to learn more about the ways I can go out into the world and help people.”

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