Running on Empty

“I’m starving!”  How many times do we say that throughout the course of a day? Skip breakfast on a busy morning, and we’re starving by 11:00. Only have a salad for lunch, so we’re starving by dinnertime.

We say it lightheartedly, although well aware that we are certainly not starving. In fact, most of us have no idea what starvation really feels like, but we can be sure that a growling stomach isn’t all it entails.

What would it really feel like to try and function all day, every day…hungry?

Had we been born in Africa, we’d have entered the world with an estimated 1 in 3 chance of facing that reality, of being chronically malnourished from birth. Hunger pangs and a growling stomach would be the least of our worries. Studies have found that malnourished children have reduced brain activity and impaired attention, as well as delayed verbal and motor development, impaired intersensory integration, and severely reduced academic performance.

When it comes down to it, in order for a child to develop properly and even have a shot at succeeding in school, they simply can’t go hungry during the day, much less everyday.

Our aim at Passion Partners is to build communities, and we believe that feeding children, giving them a chance to focus, engage, and succeed in school, is an essential element in a community development strategy. Current efforts at community building simply cannot be sustained in years to come if there is no future generation of leaders and thinkers.

Based on that principle, this February, Passion Partners launched a new program as part of the Siaya Community Development Initiative – a feeding program at Usingo Primary School, which will provide 400 students and teachers a hot meal each day. For some of them, it will be their only certain meal of the day.  For all of them, it’ll be the one that will provide proper nutrition and energy to sustain them through long school hours.

We will be evaluating students throughout the course of this year to see what impact the feeding program has on their academic performance. Teachers, students, parents, and community members are optimistic that the impact will be immense. We pray it is, and will look toward replicating this program in other communities we are helping to develop throughout Africa.


Espy, Mike. “Nutrition, Brain Function, and Behavior.” Health Guidance.

“A life free from hunger: Tackling child malnutrition.” Save the Children.

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