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22 December 2020

December donation feeds more hungry Ugandans

Basic vegan food provision for hungry households
basic vegan food

The ten latest households to have received vegan food parcels in Uganda as a result of our donation were located in the Torodo region of the country and have been bought and distributed personally by Beatrice Okumu, a second co-ordinator working for Devon Development Education on the ground in Uganda. As with our previous contributions, we provided basic emergency relief for those left hungry by a combination of a failed harvest and the COVID crisis - beans, maize flour, salt and oil - plus soap. While we do have the names of the recipients, we don't have any background details this time. But Beatrice writes: 'Oh how you could see the joy in them. They were very happy because they didn't expect such from anyone. Thank you for being there for us.'

2 December 2020

Ten more households receive emergency food parcels in Uganda

Buwata School Family
Buwata School Family

We have received details of the latest ten families who received a vegan food parcel (beans, maize flour, salt, oil and vegetable soap) in November to last at least 14 days as a result of our latest donation. Maize flour is the key ingredient in Posho, a semi-hard cornmeal porridge that is the traditional basic dish in Uganda.

Once again, the items were purchased and delivered by Devon Development Education's man on the ground, Godfrey Kisaye.

Recipients were recommended by Buwata Primary School in the Mubende District. Godfrey describes their predicament as follows:

  1. Kabatende Jaile 82 years: She is very old and living with her two grandchildren who help her with cooking. She has some land but she didn't have anything to harvest last season so she had no food. But for this harvest they have planted beans, maize and sweet potatoes, so they hope things will be better soon.
  2. Anet Benanga 67 years: She stays with three grandchildren who are all orphans. She had no food because her plants were destroyed last season. They have planted maize and beans plus a few sweet potatoes. They will soon start to harvest. She was very happy to get food.
  3. Kobusinge Jirad 78 years: She stays with her four grandchildren. She has no land. Neighbours helped her and gave her a small portion to grow crops. At the moment they have no food, but they have planted for the next season. She was very glad to have food.
  4. Lidya Kobusinge 75 years: She stays with her four grandchildren – their parents have all passed away. Her husband died three weeks back. Last season crops did not produce due to the long dry weather, so she had no food. She has planted crops for this season. She was so happy to have food.
  5. Erick Barabirawo 70 years: This man is blind and stays alone. Neighbours helped him with food. But I found him with no food, He was so happy to get supplies.
  6. Joseph Behangana 82 years: He is living with his two grandchildren, He can't work, as he is very old and also has lung cancer. The young children go and work to get food. But it is a struggle and he was also happy to receive a parcel.
  7. Namiyingo Elida 75 years: This old lady is partially blind. She stays with her two grandchildren who help her to cook. One neighbour used to provide food, but now they don't have enough.
  8. Kekisenge Josephine 81 years: She is staying alone. She came from Rwanda in 1992. She had no money and the landlord gave her a room for free. Neighbours help her where they can. She also received food and was very happy.
  9. Jenina Tibamwenda 77 years: She stays with her two grandchildren. She has land. She planted crops last season but they failed. They have planted food this season that are doing well.
  10. Regina Nyansabile 87 years: She stays alone. All her family members were killed during the war in Rwanda. Kindly people help her by providing food when they can. I gave her food and she was very glad.

As you can see from the above, Uganda has had to cope with a failed harvest as well as the COVID pandemic. But there is some hope that the newly sown crops will herald better times ahead.

We have sent a further donation for December.

The photo shows one of the families with their supplies.

14 November 2020
VCG Annual Report
VCG Annual Report

VCG Annual Report Published

Our Annual Report, covering our activities from October 2019 to the present, is now available by clicking here or on the image. It summarises the projects we were involved in before COVID-19, the emergency food aid we supported during the first wave of the pandemic and news of our current plans until the end of this difficult year. As you will see, our main activities have involved a school feeding programme in Ethiopia, organising events for refugees and the homeless in the UK and supporting emergency COVID-19 food relief for people in Nepal,Uganda,Nigeria, UK and Ethiopia; and providing funds to feed street dogs in Nepal. We're also looking forward to completing a wildlife education booklet for UK schools in early 2012.

In an ideal world, we would choose to concentrate largely on projects that bring long-term educational benefits, particularly to young people, but with so many humans and other animals suffering acutely during the pandemic, we feel that emergency food relief cannot be ignored.

We hope you enjoy reading the report. Please do pass on details to anybody - vegan or otherwise - who you think might be interested. Thank you!

2 November 2020

First ten Ugandan households receive food parcels – more funds donated

Katoma Primary School families
Katoma Primary School families

We now have information on the first ten recipients of emergency food parcels (beans, maize flour, salt, oil and vegetable soap) purchased from our donation to help Ugandan households suffering extreme hardship due to COVID-19 restrictions and crop failures (see earlier post for details). Food was purchased and distributed by Devon Development Education's on-the ground worker Godfrey Kisakye, to households recommended by Katoma Primary School in Uganda's Mubende District.

We have today sent funds for similar plant-based provisions early in November.

The photo shows nine of the first ten recipients with their food parcels.

  1. Ssajjabi Charles, 89 years. This elderly man stays with two grandchildren. His wife died two years back. All of the maize crop in his garden failed due to dry season, so the family had no food.
  2. Namukwaya Ruth, 83 years. Ruth lives with her 87 year-old sister. During March her sister was sick and admitted to hospital for two months, so she planted very few beans and these failed to produce. They had no food when they received the food parcel.
  3. Nsubuga Benedict, 84 years. He stays alone in his house and he cannot dig. Neighbours used to provide food, but now they don't have anything to eat either. I found him when he had been two days without food. He cried.
  4. Kyeyune Christopher, 79 years. This man is blind and he lives alone. He had no food and was very grateful when he received the supplies.
  5. Nakatte Firista, 83 years. She lives alone. She is sick, suffering from ulcers and diabetes. She has a neighbour who is Muslim, who provides some food for her. They were both grateful for the support.
  6. Nanyonga Rose, 80 years. She is partially blind and lives with her little grandson. Although they have land where they can grow crops and neighbours help her because she cannot dig, they were short of food.
  7. Namakula Resty, 72 years. This lady stays alone in her house. She had two children but both died ten years ago. She had an accident and has a problem with her back. A church priest nearby used to help her by providing food, but it is now scarce.
  8. Anna Nasanga, 83 years. She lives with her two grandchildren, who are orphans. She doesn't have any land, so the children go to work for others and get food that way. They were very happy to have the parcels.
  9. Nsubuga Patrick, 59 years. He is living with his two children. His wife had an accident and spent six months in hospital, but didn't survive. Land was sold while she was in hospital. Patrick started renting land for digging, but the crops failed.
  10. Nakanwagi Maria, 87 years. She is staying with her three grand children. Their father had a mental health illness (and 'ran mad'). The children planted crops last season but they failed to come up.
13 October 2020

Food parcels sent to Uganda

Ugandan family
Ugandan family

With extreme hardship in poorer countries exacerbated by COVID-19, we have sent funds to provide food parcels for struggling families in Uganda. Each parcel contains:

Our initial contribution will feed 10 families of five for at least 14 days, probably more.

With so many people in so many different countries needing emergency help, we have chosen this particular project because it is a small-scale initiative where we have personal contact with the co-ordinators in the UK (Devon Development Education (DDE) - also responsible for Fairtrade Devon), who in turn know and employ the distributors in Uganda. It's a low budget, maximum efficient, minimum expense programme.

Lockdown in Uganda has kept deaths from COVID-19 extremely low, but it has left day labourers and market traders (amongst many others) without work or money. In addition, the first season's harvest has been poor, creating food scarcities. Teachers and staff from the schools that DDE works with in more normal times choose the families who benefit. Typically - as in the photo - they are headed by elderly widows who are caring for many orphaned grandchildren. The scheme began in August and, - according to DDE - 'there is no doubt that the food is helping people in real need and even saving lives'.

21 September 2020

New report on award-winning Ethiopian school feeding programme

KG students at HPS, Ethiopia Annual Report 2020
KG students at HPS

We have just received our Annual Report from The International Fund for Africa (IFA) in Ethiopia, monitoring the results of our funding of daily school meals (breakfast and lunch) at Hana Primary School in Addis Ababa and explaining some of the other important work undertaken as part of the organisation's school feeding programme.

The report states that 'every day, millions of children in Ethiopia go to school hungry' and explains the positive impact of the innovative vegan school meal initiative in helping the poorest children. In turn, this improves academic achievement and ultimately, life opportunities for those who benefit from the scheme.

In addition to the direct benefit to children, IFA has now completed work on a mushroom farm that will generate income towards the long-term aim of self-sufficiency for the school meal programme. Other positives include the creation of work opportunities for parents as cooks and for local food producers.

The latest report shows that IFA has received national recognition for its work in Addis Ababa, receiving an award from the Deputy Prime Minister of Ethiopia at a nationally televised ceremony. It's quite an achievement for a relatively small organisation pursuing what some may still consider a radical vegan agenda. Generously, the organisation pays tribute to sponsors like ourselves for their support.

Since the school was shut down as part of COVID-19 restriction measures, the families of children who would normally receive meals have been given regular food parcels to take home and to stave off the worst impact of lockdown. However, IFA is hopeful that school may resume soon.

We will be continuing our funding for the next academic year.

14 August 2020

Food parcels in Ethiopia

IFA distributing food parcels
IFA distributing food parcels

We have sent additional funds to cover the cost of feeding approximately 20 children with vegan food for the next month in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The fund will help with a scheme being operated by our inspirational partners, International Fund for Africa (IFA).

In normal times, our partnership with IFA involves us sponsoring breakfast and lunch throughout the school year for roughly 100 of the poorest children at Hana Primary School.

It is our biggest commitment. But with schools closing before the end of term as part of Ethiopia's national lockdown, IFA set up an emergency operation to help the most vulnerable with take home rations. (Some of our donation for last year's school meals was unused and has already been diverted into the take home food scheme).

Although Ethiopia, like many Sub-Saharan African countries, has done well in keeping COVID-19 infection numbers and deaths relatively low so far, the virus is spreading and the economic consequences have been dire. Lockdown has left many without any income, as there is no benefit system. UNICEF has estimated that malnutrition rates may rise by up to 24%.

Additionally, there has been a plague of locusts in the country and, alas, the eruption of violent ethnic conflict in some areas.

It is hoped that the schools will be able to return next month and we will be able to resume our usual sponsorship for 2020/21. If not, we will be investigating the best ways we can help IFA to provide vital vegan food aid for the poorest.

6 July 2020

Feeding hungry UK children over the summer holidays

Noodles with veggies and tofu
Noodles with veggies and tofu

Our latest small donation during the COVID-19 pandemic has been to support The Akshaya Patra Foundation's (TAPF) Nourish and Flourish campaign to provide thousands of healthy meals to low-income families in the UK, particularly in Greater London.

In the UK more than three million children are at risk of going hungry during school holidays. Despite the government's welcome U-turn that provides 1.3 million of those children with free school meal vouchers over this summer, there are, alas, still a lot of hungry youngsters out there, even in a comparatively rich country like our own.

Organised largely in conjunction with local council's Children in Holiday clubs, TAPF provides a healthy and nutritious hot meal to the children of low-income children who do not qualify under the government scheme. While some of the dishes are lacto-vegetarian, our donation will pay for 240 vegan meals. Plant-based recipes include Thai Curry and Rice, Egg free Noodles with veggies and tofu (see photo), Jacket Potato, bakes veggies and beans and Chickpea veggie pilav with salad. Fruit is added to every meal.

Many of those who run holiday clubs have testified to the positive impact of The Akshaya Patra Foundation's scheme in alleviating malnutrition and improving behaviour and concentration levels.

When kids come here from home, they have either not eaten or eaten much. They get here and get these hot meals from TAPF. The nutrition is massive rather than food from stores. They are doing a good job now... You see trends, the way children react ... and come back asking for more food. -- Thomas Scanell, Simply Kids, Croydon
21 June 2020

Food for 500 starving street dogs in Kathmandu

Daily feeding rounds for dogs in Kathmandu
Daily feeding rounds

Following on from our second donation to help feed hungry people in Nepal (see post below), we have now sent a second contribution to help feed the starving street dogs in Kathmandu. Although lockdown has now ended - meaning that some of the animals do have some human sources of food available again - most of the stray dog population hang out around the city's restaurants, campus and gym, all of which are still shut down.

Dogs sharing a meal in Kathmandu
Sharing a meal
Project Humane Nepal tells us that they cannot abruptly stop providing the life-saving food they have been distributing throughout the COVID-19 crisis. A vegan meal (cooked rice, dal, pumpkin, soy chunks, thin arrowroot biscuits) is still being prepared and distributed to 90+ dogs daily. All the purchased and prepared food is vegan, though any dog food that supporters donate is also used.

Our second donation will cover the cost of approximately 500 meals.

16 June 2020

More help in Nepal

Serving those in need, Nepal
Serving those in need

Our latest round of donations to help with emergency virus projects has begun with a donation to feed another 16 families of four for ten days in Nepal. This makes a total of 30 Nepali families we have fed for a 10-day period.

Our new support will go to help Nepali workers returning home from India, forced to undertake long and sometimes fatal journeys after India's shutdown in April left them without income and food. Those who managed to make it back to West Nepal have found themselves a part of a humanitarian crisis that has engulfed Nepal's fragile economy during the COVID-19 crisis. See for example: The ticking time bomb of Nepal's returning migrant workers

Unloading supplies, Nepal
Unloading supplies
Workers and their families face quarantine when they reach their home country and some have no source of food without food parcels from Grassroots Movement in Nepal. All the food is vegan.

Our previous donation went to help with providing meals during lockdown in the Kathmandu area. With no benefit system and no wages, there was a major crisis at the time. Fortunately, there are fewer cases of COVID-19 now and the city is partially opening up.

The photos show some of the brave volunteers providing food parcels for those in need.

10 June 2020

Helping in Nigeria


Our latest small contribution towards helping the vulnerable during the COVID-19 pandemic has been to provide the funds to feed 30 children for one week at a children's village (orphanage) in Nigeria. The meals are based upon a high-protein, 100% plant-based meat substitute called VegChunks - a locally produced, protein rich meat substitute. The protein content of one pack also covers for an average of half of a child's requirement per week. Grains and vegetables are added to produce a balanced meal.

Since SOS Children's Village - where we have sponsored the food - does not allow photos of the children, the photo shows some of the team who deliver the food. Inside the orphanage, between 3-6 children live with a foster mother as families.

3 June 2020

Feeding stray dogs in Nepal

Feeding hungry street dogs in Nepal
Feeding hungry street dogs

We have sent now sent funds to provide more than 300 meals for street dogs in Nepal. When we sponsored efforts to feed vulnerable human families in Nepal last week (see post below), we also learnt about the sad fate of non-human street animals in the country during lockdown. While nobody would describe their routine life as easy, it is apparently part of the culture that they live amongst the public and are fed by restaurants, shops, tourists and passers by. With people leaving towns to return to villages and no tourists, food sources have disappeared and the animals are faced with starvation.

Although we were inspired by the brave work of rescue groups, as a vegan organisation our constitution would exclude a donation from the charity if the food purchased contained animal products. So we were delighted to receive this message from the Project Humane Nepal: 'the meals provided to the street dogs are vegan. The recipe includes cooked rice, lentils/dal, vegetables (pumpkin or carrots), and thin arrowroot biscuits. Some times a few friends/family donate dog food and eggs, and we accept those. We do not directly purchase any animal products. I am a vegan myself, and I do not want to contribute towards animal suffering'.

As well as the dogs, the groups are feeding street cows, temple monkeys, cats, goats and other animals. There are several groups in India & other Global South countries (and many other parts of the world) that have made special provision to feed hungry street animals during the COVID-19. Our thanks to all of them.

29 May 2020

Feeding families in Nepal

Feeding old and young
Feeding old & young

As part of our contribution towards supporting vegan food aid during the COVID-19 crisis, we have sponsored food for 14 families of four for a ten-day period to help a wonderful effort to provide vital supplies for the needy in Nepal. The country has been in lockdown for more than one month and with no benefit system available, day workers and beggars suddenly lost any means of income and food. Our friends at Grassroots Movement in Nepal (whose school feeding programme we have supported before) are preparing a meal of rice, lentils and veg daily for all those who don't have access to kitchens, as well as providing raw materials for those who do.

Queing for meals
Queing for meals
All the food is purchased locally, thereby providing valuable income to local farmers.

We hope to be able to provide support for another valuable project in Nepal in the coming weeks.

The photos show one of the improvised food kitchens in action.

15 May 2020

400 more vegan meals sponsored in London

Volunteer distributing meals
Volunteer distributing meals

With our own regular projects still inoperative due to COVID-19, we have made a second small donation to Ashkaya Patra's major operation to feed the homeless and other vulnerable people in London. While some of the organisation's feeding programmes include dairy, the meals we haver sponsored are all vegan. Last month, we paid for in excess of 300 meals and this month we have managed to increase our support. In a letter of thanks to us, a representative from Ashkaya Patra has written that our donation will 'serve about 400-420 meals depending on the ingredients being used on the day, per availability. These meals as mentioned before are a one pot dish - a mixture of lentils, vegetables, rice or millets. This dish is vegan. We also tag a fruit as and when possible/available'.

We continue to look for suitable emergency efforts we can support during the COVID-19 crisis - always encompassing our vegan ethic, of course.

10 April 2020

London calling – 300 vegan meals sponsored

Preparing food
Preparing food

We today donated funds to pay for 300 vegan meals, all to be provided and distributed amongst the homeless and vulnerable in London. It is a tiny contribution to a massive effort by the Akshaya Patra Foundation UK (TAPF) to keep thousands of those suffering hardship from hunger during the COVID-19 crisis.

Although TAPF is a lacto-vegetarian rather than vegan organisation, much of the food it is providing during the pandemic is dairy-free and we have received assurances that the dish we have funded will be a hot wholesome vegan porridge of rice, lentils and seasonal vegetables, known as Khichdi.

The Akshaya Patrara Foundation follows the ancient Hindu tradition of Ayurvedic nutrition that allows consumption of dairy and honey. While it is disappointing from our vegan perspective that it sees the need to add dairy protein to at least some of the millions of school meals it usually provides for children in poverty - mostly in India but also in the UK - there can be no disputing the dynamism of the organisation. It has perfected a system to mass feed those in need with nutritious food at a very low cost per unit. And we also salute the bravery of its staff and volunteers in providing much-needed meals in the current climate.

With our regular projects currently unable to operate, we are looking to sponsor more vegan meals (we hope an increased number) in early May.

9 April 2020

Lockdown! Emergency project announcement on the way soon

Unfortunately all of our projects have been hit by the Covid-19 lockdown. Obviously, social meals with refugees are impossible. We fought hard to find some way of continuing with meals for the homeless in Exeter, but this has also proved impossible. Fortunately, the excellent Exeter Food Project has done a fantastic job of keeping the vulnerable fed, with significant contributions from food donated by restaurants that could no longer use it. Our food did not prove necessary!

We have also received news that our school feeding project in Ethiopia is currently inoperative because of school closures. Our partners, International Fund for Africa, recently sent us this news:

Ethiopia, like many other African countries is following the advice of WHO - the distancing and hygiene, etc. So far schools are closed and those who can work from home are working from home to reduce the load on public transport and have less people in offices- so we are not on strict lockdown.

As you can imagine we have a very poor health system so all efforts are geared towards prevention.

Due to distancing we we have not provided meals but we are concerned and waiting for guidance from the government on how we can serve the vulnerable.

Until there is complete shutdown , while maintaining distance we are making face masks because there is a huge shortage.

The testing capacity is low, so the official figure of the infected is just 43 ; we had two deaths yesterday from COVID 19.

It is hoped that IFA will be able to find a way of feeding the children again soon.

The plight of poorer countries with less developed health systems is an enormous worry.

We have been looking into the possibility of diverting some funds into helping emergency COVID-19 measures and hope to be able to announce something very soon.

March 2020

Our first meal for the homeless

A new venture for us began at the end of February – providing lunch for the homeless at Exeter’s day centre, St Petrock's. The wonderful Fairfoods cooked up a vegan treat – mac’n cheeze with coleslaw and salad followed by fruit crumble cake and ice cream – for 33 guests on a wet and windy day. At least three of the homeless people we met were veggies and particularly pleased to see us!

We’re looking forward to returning to St Petrock’s towards the end of the month. It was sobering to meet some of those far less fortunate than ourselves, and it felt good to be able to help just a little bit. Also, it was great to get to talk to the caring staff at St Petrock’s.

No pictures of people, of course, but here are a couple of our volunteer team in serving action!

Footnote – If you live in the South West and haven’t yet had the pleasure of trying the Fairfoods menu, you can catch them at Exeter Vegan Market Saturday 14 March, where they will be the main caterers.

Menu at St Petrocks, Vegan Compassion Group photo
Menu at St Petrocks
Volunteer at St Petrocks, Vegan Compassion Group photo
Volunteer at St Petrocks
Volunteers at St Petrocks, Vegan Compassion Group photo
Volunteers at St Petrocks
Fairfoods contribution to Vegan Compassion Group meal for UK homeless people
Full meal at a glance!

New menus for Ethiopian school lunch scheme

We have now received a New Year 2020 update report from the International Fund for Africa, the inspiring organisation that administers the school feeding programme in Ethiopia.

‘Each year’, we are told, ‘school meal menus are redesigned by taking into consideration nutritional value, cost effectiveness, availability of local ingredients and local preferences, customs and taste. School meals for 2019/2020 were revised and on average each school child now receives around 900 kilocalories from the meals served at school’.

Here is the current lunch menu:

Day Main Dish Side Dish
Monday Macaroni with whole lentils Carrot and cabbage
Tuesday Red bean with carrot Potato with beetroot
Wednesday Chickpea sauce Carrot and potato salad
Thursday Pasta with soya sauce String bean with carrot
Friday Fava bean sauce Collard green with potato

The project continues to provide work for local food producers, cooks and support staff, as well as achieving its primary purposes of hunger alleviation, health benefits and improved academic performance for the children.