MIAMI – A team headed by soccer greats Lionel Messi and Neymar da Silva Santos has just formed on the social networks with the aim of ensuring that Latin American and Caribbean children receive the equivalent of 10 million school meals.
Behind the #JuntosSomos10 initiative are the United Nations World Food Program and the MasterCard company, which since 2012 have been working together to end the cycle of hunger and poverty pervading many communities around the world.
The school meals are vital for a region where millions of children and teens go hungry and whose families are not able to feed them as they would require to be able to reach their full human and scholastic potential, Miguel Barreto of Peru, the regional WFP director, told EFE.
#JuntosSomos10 aims to provide the equivalent of 10 million extra meals within the space of two years and is offering several options to help achieve that objective.
One is to donate money directly to the WFP on the campaign’s Webpage and another is simply to use the hashtag #JuntosSomos10 on Twitter and Instagram to do so.
MasterCard will donate one meal every time someone uses the hashtag and, for direct donations to WFP using the MasterCard credit card, the company will donate 10 meals.
“MasterCard believes in a more inclusive world, and one with greater opportunities for all, ending hunger is the first step toward achieving social inclusion and reversing the cycle of poverty,” Ana Ferrel, the company’s regional spokesperson, told EFE.
Messi and Neymar, who were teammates on Spain’s iconic Barcelona soccer squad, signed a contract with MasterCard two years ago to be the “captains” of the campaign designed to create a movement comprised of people committed to food security for Latin American and Caribbean children.
Barreto said that “the ideal” situation would be to provide “two meals” (breakfast and lunch) too all students between ages 4-16 at public schools and also to have meal portions that they can take home for dinner.
Approximately 85 million children in the region currently receive one meal per day at school, but there are millions of kids who don’t receive any food at all, the WFP representative said.
The WFP runs school meal programs in Bolivia, Colombia, Haiti, Cuba, Nicaragua and Honduras and reaches 2.5-3 million children per year.
Barreto said that calculations are that for every dollar invested, the program produces the equivalent of four dollars in return.
In addition, when a school provides food for the students, this increases the number of students attending class and contributes to reducing sexual discrimination, since parents then also send their daughters to school, where they, too, receive meals.