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Unilever’s Lesson in World Hunger

Friday, 24 April 2015

Year 3 boys at Bolton School learnt about world hunger in a moving presentation by Andy Lagor, Business Development Chef at Unilever Food Solutions. Having recently visited Indonesia and East Timor as part of Unilever’s work with the World Food Programme, he told the boys of the worldwide problem of malnutrition. Across the globe, an estimated 805 million people battle daily with hunger – and many of these are children who, as a result, are being denied the opportunity to reach their full potential. 

Recalling his visit to a small East Timor village, Andy said that whilst boys and girls were very keen to study and willing to walk miles each day for their education, many struggled to focus on their lessons because they were starving. He told the Bolton School pupils how many children suffer from a disease called stunting and showed a photo of a 13 year old girl who, due to malnutrition still looked like an infant. Andy also told the story of a 9 year old girl who walked 6 miles a day for her education through jungle, mud and difficult terrain. At a school which he visited, the children would receive food only on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and went without on the other days. He explained that these were the lucky third of children that actually received an education at all, another third would already be working on the streets selling diesel out of jam jars or picking rubbish from tips, whilst a further third of the cohort would have already died!

Andy explained how just a small amount of money could make a real difference to their lives and utilised a red cup to show how it costs only 20p to fill the cup with a nutritious meal. He also reminded the boys that Bolton School does help out with the World Food Programme as each time the catering department purchases specific Unilever ingredients, this triggers donations of meals by Unilever. He showed the boys a photo of a school teacher whose dream was to watch his favourite team, Manchester United, and explained how this would be impossible as it would take him 3 years without spending a penny of his wage to save the money for the entrance fee alone! Andy explained how Unilever supplies basic ingredients to such communities and educates teachers and parents in cooking. He told how the visit had a dramatic effect on him and had changed him as a person and that he and his wife are planning to go out again to the area next year to offer their help with voluntary work.

Later in the afternoon, Andy, along with his colleague Joe Byrne, Chef Coach and Business Development Representative, cooked up the nutritional maize-based product that is a staple of the diet in East Timor.  Some of the Year 3 boys tasted the meal and much to Andy’s surprise a few quite liked it!  He explained that this was often all that the children in East Timor had so they had to eat it or go hungry. 

There are strong links between Unilever and Bolton School, who both count William Hesketh Lever as their founder. In 1915 Lever brought together Bolton Grammar School for Boys and Bolton High School for Girls on the Chorley New Road site where Bolton School is today. Lever also created the company Unilever and, with its success, used the funds to re-invest in Bolton School and to create the Leverhulme Trust, which still to this day financially supports the School.

Lever instilled in his company the principle of helping improve the lives of others and this underpins Unilever values today. The partnership with the World Food Programme is a way the company meets its Sustainable Living Plan goals as part of its Foundation network. The World Food Programme is the world’s largest humanitarian agency fighting worldwide hunger with a goal of making ‘zero hunger’ a reality. 

The School is working increasingly closer with Unilever Food Solutions and a week earlier representatives from the company had been in Senior School to judge and award prizes at the Senior Schools' Bake-Off final.

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The boys enjoyed watching Andy Lagor cook up the staple maize-based meal

The boys enjoyed watching the Unilever chefs cook up the staple maize-based meal

Andy Lagor and Joe Byrne of Unilever Food Solutions

Andy Lagor and Joe Byrne of Unilever Food Solutions