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The Family Meal - a UN World Food Programme & ECHO photo exhibition 

In an attempt to explore the question of ‘What brings us together?’ photographer Chris Terry went in search of the ingredients of the family meal. He visited families receiving food assistance under the partnership of the European Commission's Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) in five countries on three continents.

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Niger – The circumference of a baby’s upper arm is an important indicator of undernutrition. In 2013, in partnership with WFP, ECHO provided nutritional support to four million children under the age of two ©WFP/EU/Chris Terry

The photo exhibition will go on show at Madrid airport from in Spain from November 17 to December 20, before travelling to other European cities over the next year. As well as telling stories about the challenges faced by the families affected by crises, the exhibition reveals some of the steps required to eradicate hunger.

It is important to empower women to feed families. In many developing countries, women carry out the lion's share of work (90 per cent) that goes into the family meal. Equipping women with knowledge and putting money in their hands is proven to yield greater benefits for a family’s education, health and nutrition. Investing in women can pay dividends for generations to come, a key to breaking the inter-generational cycle of hunger.

Another important theme of the exhibition is the importance of child nutrition, specifically during the first 1,000 days, from conception to the child’s second birthday. Often the youngest and most vulnerable children do not get their fair share of the family meal. Young children need additional meals, prepared specifically for them because of the size of their stomach and growth needs. This is not to overlook the continuing needs of children at risk of wasting, who remain particularly vulnerable during the first five years of their lives.

Good nutrition can mean the difference between a promising future or one plagued by poor health and stunted growth. Hence this 1,000-day window determines the course of that child’s life, the shape and future of their families and communities, as well as the stability and prosperity of our planet. 

Globally, roughly half of all child deaths can be attributed to undernutrition, with 3.1 million young children dying every year from related causes. All of this is preventable. WFP and the EU are committed to ensuring all children receive the nutrition they need. Last year, EU's humanitarian aid helped WFP provide special nutritional support to four million children under the age of two and three million women.

While the families photographed for this exhibition, and millions of others like them, have temporarily lost the ability to provide enough food to remain healthy and enable their children to grow to their full potential, WFP can step in to help - thanks to EU funds. Yet, a good family meal is not enough to prevent undernutrition, the family should also have access to health services and a clean environment.

Among these pictures, through the differences, you see similarities. The most singular and consistent of which is how these people hope and work every day towards a better future for themselves and their children. It is their vision that is our greatest inspiration and impetus to act.

[Ensuring the immediate food needs of refugees are met] By portraying part of the essence of our humanity, this exhibition aims to reveal our empathy, perhaps the most essential ingredient, not only for the family meal, but also for a world without hunger.

Each month 1,000 refugees cross the border from Colombia to Ecuador, to seek a safer life. WFP and the EU ensure the immediate food needs of the refugees by providing them with an electronic card. These cards give the refugees the possibility to make their own choices on what they serve as a family meal, thereby maintaining a sense of dignity and independence ©WFP/EU/Chris Terry 

Chris Terry, 28/10/2014
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