Book Review: The Shed That Fed A Million Children by Magnus Macfarlane-Barrow

The Shed that fed a million children

The Shed That Fed A Million Children is about, and written by the founder of the charity ‘Marys Meals’.  The charity and the book was first brought to my attention at last years Hay Literary Festival where I had the privilege of listening to Magnus Macfarlane-Barrow talk about how the charity came in to being, and how it has become what it is today, an organisation which has provided over a million children with a meal.

The book is named after the shed at Magnus’s fathers farm in Scotland where Mary’s Meals began and where it continues today.  It is the story of how Mary’s Meals came about, how it has grown and the work it continues to do.  It all began when as a young adult Magnus and his brother decided to take a beaten up landrover to war-torn Bosnia-Herzegovia after seeing a TV news report.  There they saw people in need.  Rather than just being moved and thinking how terrible this was, Magnus (and his family) did something about it.  He began a small appeal for food and clothing.  People donated generously and abundantly and he continued to make trips there for the next 10 years, helping in any way he could.  This eventually led to a trip to Malawi where Magnus met Edward, who was to go on to become the inspiration for Mary’s Meals.  Edward was just 14 years old and when asked what he wished for in life,  he said his only hope for life was to go to school and have enough to eat. From that single conversation Mary’s Meals was born.  The vision of Mary’s Meals is that all children should be able to eat one meal a day in a place of education.

This is a story of miracles,  and events that have happened along the way as Mary’s Meals has grown in to an organisation which has fed 1,035,637 children in their place of education.  He tells of the inspiring people who have helped him, those who have benefited from Mary’s Meals and his meetings with monarchs, and religious leaders.  He tells it all in an unassuming and gentle manner.  His passion and belief in what he does is clear but his gratitude and faith in God is what really shines.

Magnus is a generous, and compassionate man and as you would expect his book is inspirational and humbling.  It is testimony to what can grow from one small idea, when there is determination, faith, vision and perseverance.  The cost of the book is £12.99 which is almost exactly the cost of feeding a child daily for an entire  year and every penny made from the sales of the book is used to support Mary’s Meals.  For an inspiring start to the year, I wholeheartedly recommend this book.

You can find out much more about Mary’s Meals here.

The Shed


  1. January 12, 2016 / 8:39 pm

    what a great book to review – I hadn’t heard of Mary’s Meals. Thank you for writing about this amazing story.

    • January 13, 2016 / 9:39 pm

      It is an amazing charity. I really recommend reading the book.

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