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

  • In recent years, hunger in Malawi has increased due largely to global inflation, recurring drought and natural disasters (including Cyclone Freddy, which ravaged the country in March 2023).
  • In 2022, 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

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 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 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.

Grant Their Christmas Wish: A Nutritious Meal

During the Christmas season, Cross Catholic Outreach offers 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 to provide meals for hungry children and families, or browse our diverse menu to see the many ways you can bless the poor this holiday season.

Bless Lives This Christmas


Donations from this campaign will be used to cover any expenditures incurred through June 30, 2024, the close of our ministry’s fiscal year. In the event that more funds are raised than needed to fully fund the project, the excess funds, if any, will be used to meet the most urgent needs of the ministry.