Monday, May 14, 2007

Barrymore feeds world's hungry children

Only a select few of celebrities get out of their comfort zone to extend help to others, especially the hungry who are desperately in need of food to survive. But not famous actress Drew Barrymore, 32, and one of the world's recognized film stars. Recently, the World Food Programme has named her as its Ambassador Against Hunger.

WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran has announced that the actress already returned from a second trip in Kenya where she visited the WFP-supported school feeding projects there. She even joined world marathon record-holder Paul Tergat of Kenya, to drum support for their advocacy programs on hunger prevention.

"I can't think of any issue that is more important than working to see that no schoolchild in this world goes hungry," the actress was said in a CNN interview. According to her, "I am honored and humbled to accept this challenging and rewarding assignment...Feeding a child at school is such a simple thing--but it works miracles," she said.

"School feeding not only fills stomachs, but has proven track record of boosting enrollment, attendance and academic performance. For just pennies a day per child, this program changes lives--and ultimately can impact the futures of poor countries around the world in a profound way," she added.

The actress, along with Tergat and WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran went to Washington this week to raise awareness about school feeding. They also advocated for the passage of draft legislation in the US Congress that would expand and regularize funding for US-supported school feeding programmes.

Once enacted into law, the current legislation would increase funding from the current average of US$100 million to US$300 million a year within five years. Sheeran estimated that there are more than 112 million school-aged children who are undernourished and live in developing countries. "School feeding provides them the opportunity to make the most of their education."

Sheeran added that in 2006, the WFP already fed some 19.4 million children in 71 countries through school feeding programs.

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