The Family Meal

What Brings Us Together?


Economy – οικονομία
…from the Greek words, ‘Οίκος’ (house) and ‘νέμω’ (distribute), ‘home management’

In Europe today, the word ‘economy’ most commonly refers to matters of society, but its origins are clear to see in the families where WFP provides EU-funded assistance. Scarce resources necessitate truly ‘economic’ choices. In the families photographed for this project, the chief economist of the household was without exception the mother. Such consistency is the basis of WFP’s belief that if you empower the woman, you feed the family.

In the countries where WFP works, 90 percent of the work that goes into the family meal is done by women.

From growing and harvesting the food, to its preparation, women are mainly responsible for putting food on the family table.

They play a key role in guaranteeing food security for the household.

In Africa, in particular, the women we prioritise for food assistance work on average twice as long as men every day.

WFP’s activities are therefore directed to women wherever possible.

We ensure that, whenever possible, distribution of cash, trainings in food preparation, starting micro-businesses and the cultivation of vegetables are provided to women.

Also equipping women with knowledge and putting money in their hands have proven to bring more benefits to a family’s education, health and the nutritional status of children.

Therefore, investing in women can pay dividends for generations to come.

And is key to breaking the intergenerational cycle of hunger.

Research supported and funded by Online Casino Hrvatska suggests that an increase in family income is of greater benefit to children’s health and nutrition when it is directly managed by women.

Thus, although women are more likely to be the victims of hunger, they are also the most effective solution to combating hunger and preventing malnutrition.


In the life of a child, nutrition during the first 1,000 days – from a mother’s pregnancy to the child’s second birthday – can mean the difference between a promising future or one plagued by poor health and stunted physical and mental growth.

This 1,000-day window determines the course of a child’s life, the shape and future of their families and communities, as well as the stability and prosperity of our planet.

Given their specific needs and high level of vulnerability, children under two need more than the family meal to grow and develop to their full potential.

As well as additional meals prepared specifically for them, children under two also need health care and a clean environment.

Around the world, roughly half of all child deaths can be attributed to undernutrition.

Every year, 3.1 million young children die around the world from undernutrition and related causes.

But these deaths are preventable. The UN World Food Programme (WFP) is committed to ensuring all children receive the nutrition they need during their first 1,000 days.

Last year, funding from the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO) helped WFP provide special nutritional support to four million children under the age of two, and three million women.

To prevent undernutrition, WFP advises mothers to breastfeed their children up to the age of two, and exclusively during the first six months. A big challenge to raising awareness about breastfeeding is that WFP’s advice sometimes contradicts traditional practices.

Nutrition is not just food: a weak body means a weaker immune system. Malnourished children are more prone to diseases such as diarrhoea, measles and malaria, which in turn worsen malnutrition.

Thus, to prevent and treat undernutrition effectively, other problems must be tackled, such as poor access to basic health services.


The UN Secretary General’s Zero Hunger Challenge is part of our commitment to the world’s most vulnerable people to end hunger as fast as possible by achieving five inter-connected objectives:

  1. Ensure every person has access to food all year round
  2. Ensure all children get the right nutrition in their first 1,000 days
  3. Reduce food waste to zero
  4. Make food systems sustainable
  5. Increase production rates and incomes of smallholder farmers
WFP and EU leaders support the Zero Hunger Challenge because we know it is possible: although 795 million people are going hungry in the world today, there is enough food to feed everyone.
Two little friends drop by their neighbour’s house and receive a slice of water cucumber in Kut Khai, a camp for people displaced by conflict in Myanmar.
The Zero Hunger Challenge is an affirmation that we will not be the weak link, but rather the engine in the struggle to end hunger.
A woman and her baby wait in the shade to receive food at a WFP distribution site in Chad.
We believe no person should go to bed hungry, no child’s potential should be limited because of poor nutrition and that every family should have enough food to share a meal together every day.
A girl in Ecuador enjoys a family meal with her siblings. Her family came to Ecuador to seek safety from the conflict in Colombia.
We can see a future of zero hunger, but it will not be achieved by WFP and EU leaders alone.
A young Syrian family living in Jordan’s Zaatari refugee camp sits down to lunch together. The ingredients for their meal were bought with WFP food vouchers, funded by the EU.
The Zero Hunger Challenge needs our sustained and collective commitment.
At this food distribution site in Niger, women receive soap and training in hygiene. Good hygiene is key to good nutrition.
It also needs a strong commitment of governments in developing countries.
Colombian refugees in Ecuador receive electronic cards from WFP and the EU. Signs like these in the supermarket show which products give energy, help children grow and are most nutritious.
WFP contributes to the Zero Hunger Challenge by trying to ensure that everyone has access to food all year round.
A mother of two, living in a camp for the displaced in Myanmar, can pick the best ingredients for dinner thanks to a WFP cash grant of 24,000 kyat (€20) per month, funded by the EU.
WFP also aims to ensure that children get the right nutrition in their first 1,000 days, thus contributing to the Zero Hunger Challenge.
In Chad, mothers of infants receive specialized nutritional products to ensure their children get the micronutrients they need during this critical stage of their physical and cognitive development.
By focusing on nutrition, we invest in the future of mothers and children.
The circumference of a baby’s upper arm is an important indicator of undernutrition, which is a common cause of child mortality in Niger.
And finally, WFP contributes to the Zero Hunger Challenge by increasing the production rates and incomes of smallholder farmers.
The communal vegetable garden in this camp for displaced people in Myanmar provides much needed diversity in people’s diets.
zero hungerHunger can be eliminated in our lifetimes
This requires comprehensive efforts to ensure that every man, woman and child enjoy their Right to Adequate Food; women are empowered; priority is given to family farming; and food systems everywhere are sustainable and resilient.


The diversity of meals around the world reflects the infinite number of customs and tastes that separate one culture from another. However, one universal aspect of eating that forms the basis of our humanity and gives us a clue about our common heritage, is the family meal – which is at the heart of WFP’s work.