New York marathon winner Tergat is UN Ambassador Against Hunger

7 November 2005

Yesterday’s New York marathon victor, Paul Tergat of Kenya, is not only the world's fastest man over 26 miles, but an Ambassador Against Hunger for the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), who credits his successful athletic career to the food he received from the agency as a child.

Yesterday’s New York marathon victor, Paul Tergat of Kenya, is not only the world's fastest man over 26 miles, but an Ambassador Against Hunger for the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), who credits his successful athletic career to the food he received from the agency as a child.

“Few people are better qualified to explain how food aid can transform the life of a child,” WFP Executive Director James Morris said in congratulating him on yesterday’s victory.

“He exemplifies how just a small amount of help – such as one school meal a day – can make such an incredible difference. We are very grateful to Paul for his tremendous work and commitment as a WFP Ambassador Against Hunger,” he added.

Mr. Tergat, who ran himself into the record books in Berlin in 2003 by becoming the first man to run the Marathon in less than two hours four minutes, slicing a remarkable 43 seconds off the previous best for the 26-mile race, struggled to make the three-mile trek to school as an eight-year-old child growing up in the drought- and poverty-ridden Baringo district of Kenya’s Rift Valley.

But his life changed in 1977, when WFP started distributing free school lunches at his Riwo Primary School.

“Without food, it was very difficult to walk to school, let alone concentrate on our studies. WFP's lunches made it easier for us to make the most of our education,” Mr. Tergat said on being appointed a WFP Ambassador in January 2004. “A full meal was also the perfect incentive to keep us in the classroom.”

WFP school meals cost just $0.19 a day or $34 a year. Research shows that school feeding dramatically increases school attendance and boosts performance in the classroom.

Mr. Morris recently announced that the number of hungry people the agency is trying to feed this year in sub-Saharan Africa had climbed to 43 million – an all-time high and double the number from a decade ago.

 

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