Tuesday, July 22, 2014

How former US President Bill Clinton Inspires GPM

I was recently doing some research on the impact of globalization on the children of Mumbai, and I came across something really wonderful. Former US President Bill Clinton gave a speech at Yale University in October 2013 in which he offered a passionate plea for providing food to children who go to school, using food as an incentive to advance education. This is exactly what GPM does! It was really thrilling and extraordinarily validating to learn that the GPM “Eat to Learn” nutrition program is based on the strategy advanced by Mr. Clinton. Read what he had to say in his address, "Global Challenges"

A billion people in this world cannot read a single word in any language, not one. 120 million children never go to school. But we know that every year of schooling adds 10 to 15 per cent a year to the incomes of people in poor countries for life. And we also know how to get those kids to school: when President Zedillo was president of Mexico, they had a program where they actually paid the families of the poorest kids if their kids went to school. In Brazil, the Bolsa Escola program gives a little credit card to the poorest families that they can turn into the local lottery office with a certificate proving that their children had been to school 85 per cent of the time the previous month and they get about $15 for child per month. In my last year, Senator Dole and Senator McGovern came to see me with a proposal to offer nutritious meals to children in school but only if they come to school to get it, and so we found $300 million and feed six million kids first year we did that, and the enrollment exploded. And this year a program that has been sustained by partisan support is feeding 10 million children in poor countries in their schools, to get more people into school. 
We could not agree more! This is what GPM has been about from the beginning. Since we started providing daily hot nutritious meals to children in school, attendance in our partner REAP classes in the slums have increased by 50%. And the families of the children going to school have experienced tremendous relief of knowing that not only are their children being fed, but they are also receiving the education that they need to change the world.

Mr. Clinton, if you happen to be reading this, let me say THANK YOU for the words of inspiration, and for supporting the vision and strategy. We hope to be part of the change that you – and we – would like to see in the world.
Former US President Bill Clinton serves food to students at Akshaya Patra kitchen in Jaipur on 16 July 2014.

by Jacob Sztokman, Founder of Gabriel Project Mumbai