Expert Biography

Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow OBE is founder and CEO of Mary’s Meals, a global hunger charity that provides a daily meal in a place of education for more than 2 million of the world’s poorest children. The nutritious meals bring children to the classroom, where they can gain a basic education that provides an escape route from poverty.

He started his career as a fish farmer in Argyll, Scotland. In 1992, during the Balkan conflict, Magnus and his brother Fergus were so moved by the scenes on television that they took a week’s leave from their jobs, loaded a jeep with aid and joined a convoy travelling to Medjugorje, in Bosnia, to distribute it. On their return, donations continued to flood in resulting in Magnus eventually driving from Scotland to Bosnia a total of 23 times to deliver vital supplies. He never returned to his old job and instead set up a registered charity, named Scottish International Relief (SIR).

During a trip to Malawi in 2002, Magnus met with a family whose predicament was to spark a change in not only his own life, but in the lives of thousands of others. Lying on the floor of a hut was a mother named Emma, who was dying of AIDS. Her six children were gathered around her and Magnus asked the eldest, Edward, what it was that he hoped for from life. “To have enough to eat and to be able to go to school one day,” was his answer.

Edward’s words inspired a mission to bring hungry children to school by providing Mary’s Meals. Driven by his faith, the goodwill of grassroot supporters, working with like-minded people and in partnership with some of the world’s poorest communities, Magnus leads a mission that lets children all over the world know they matter.


Mary’s Meals is a simple idea that works. A daily meal in school has a positive impact on enrolment, attendance and performance in class, and could even hold the key to eradicating child hunger altogether. The global average cost of feeding a child for a whole school year with Mary’s Meals is just £15.90 / €18.30 / $21.

Support for Mary’s Meals is global, with affiliate organisations registered in Australia, Austria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States, as well as international fundraising groups in Belgium, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Slovakia.

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