A family sits outside their brick home in rural Malawi.
Agness Phiri (left) is among Malawian mothers enrolled in the Catholic Diocese of Karonga’s nutrition program after their children were found to be malnourished.

Malawi Food Shortage Puts Millions at Risk

Catholics Unite To Feed Hungry Malawian Families

  • Recurring droughts, combined with the global food supply shortage caused by the war in Ukraine, have increased hunger in Malawi.
  • Earlier this year, the U.N. reported that as much as a third of the population, 5.4 million people, were on the brink of extreme hunger.
  • One answer to this widespread hunger is to send shipments of Vitafood, a nutritious, shelf-stable product scientifically designed to fight malnutrition.
  • Cross Catholic Outreach partners with local Catholic dioceses and organizations in countries such as Malawi to feed the hungry.
  • Your gift through the Cross Catholic Outreach Christmas catalog can bring relief to a hungry child.

Malawi’s Food Crisis

While Malawi has been experiencing significant population growth in recent years, its resources have not kept up, and that kind of imbalance can produce a lot of challenges. When supplies fall far short of demand — particularly where food and safe water are concerned — a crisis is sure to follow, and the poor will usually suffer most from whatever shortages exist.

This is a crisis many people saw coming. After all, Malawi is a landlocked African country with limited natural resources, mediocre soil quality, widespread deforestation and a high dependency on imports. Eighty-five percent of households engage in agriculture, but cyclical droughts make it difficult to produce a strong harvest with any consistency.

As a result, about half of all Malawians are not able to meet their daily caloric requirements. And when a disruption to global imports occurs, such as the war in Ukraine, it only makes sense that those numbers skyrocket.

For children, food shortages can cascade into a lifetime of problems. Malnutrition puts them at risk of long-term mental and physical impairments and weakens the immune system, causing additional problems when an illness such as COVID-19 strikes. Hunger can even escalate an easily survivable condition into a matter of life or death.

Related: How hunger during pregnancy contributes to poverty

Donate to Make a Difference


Fighting Malawian Hunger With Vitafood

To meet the immediate need for food in Malawi, Cross Catholic Outreach has a simple but effective solution: send in Vitafood.

Vitafood is a fortified rice product specifically designed to fight the effects of child malnutrition. These meals can be packed in large shipping containers and cost-effectively sent to Catholic schools, orphanages and other local partners serving the poorest of the poor. A single container can keep crucial feeding programs running or provide immediate relief when disasters strike.

Vitafood is also an extremely flexible resource. It comes in several different varieties and can be prepared with additional spices and ingredients to suit local tastes. Catholic partners in the field love this flexibility, but they especially love that Vitafood provides the optimal balance of vitamins, minerals, protein, fiber, fat and carbohydrates a child’s hungry body needs, and that it is also a hearty option for children and adults who are healthy but at risk of becoming malnourished.

What’s more, because Vitafood meals are donated to us by respected faith-based organizations, Cross Catholic Outreach only needs to cover the cost of shipping the meals to hungry families. This means that for every dollar donated, 14 nutritious meals can be sent to a community in need.

Related: Learn about world hunger and how you can help

Nutrition: A Key Part of Holistic Transformation

Vitafood shipments play a critical role in our efforts to transform the lives of the poor in the Diocese of Karonga, the youngest Catholic diocese in Malawi.

This year, we have been working with the diocese to boost local relief and development efforts in needy communities through programs formed around the Catholic principle of integral human development — and approach that seeks to meet both the material and spiritual needs of the poor. In the Diocese of Karonga’s case, these efforts have included the development of improved water and sanitation services in rural areas, as well as projects designed to help small-scale farmers adopt improved agricultural practices and invest in sustainable business models. This allows them to increase their income and make advancements in many other areas of their lives.

While we are committed to developing long-term family and community programs like these, we also recognize that hunger is a problem of the here and now. Local families may be eager to pursue future progress, but they also need to feed their children today, tomorrow and next week. Before they can think about investing in the future, they need to focus on securing their “daily bread.”

Vitafood meets this immediate need, sparing hundreds of families from going to bed hungry and giving them the energy they need to pursue their dreams.

Grant Their Christmas Wish: A Nutritious Meal

This Christmas season, Cross Catholic Outreach is offering a different kind of Christmas catalog — one that is designed to bless both givers and receivers by using the holiday gift-giving tradition to help the world’s poorest families.

This unique Christmas catalog is easy to access. Click the button below. We also encourage you to browse our diverse menu to see the many ways you can bless the poor this holiday season.