Jean Johansson spreads ho-ho-hope with Mary’s Meals this Christmas

Friday December 22nd 2023

Jean Johansson is calling on parents to leave Santa a Mary’s Meals gift card this Christmas. (Mary’s MealsAndrew Cawley)

Written by Midlothian View Reporter, Luke Jackson

A Place in the Sun star Jean Johansson is encouraging parents across Scotland to leave out a Mary’s Meals gift card for Santa to deliver to a hungry child this Christmas, to help feed children in some of the world’s poorest countries.

Together with the international school meals charity, the Port Glasgow-raised presenter is inspiring parents to include a Mary’s Meals gift card when they traditionally leave treats and letters out for Father Christmas on 24 December, the idea being that Santa will then pass this on to a child in need.

Mary’s Meals, which was founded in a shed in Dalmally in the Highlands by founder Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow, feeds more than 2.4 million children every school day in 18 countries including Haiti, Malawi and Syria. The promise of a nutritious meal encourages children into the classroom, so that instead of working or looking for food, they can gain an education and hope for a brighter future.

Mum of one, Jean, who recently landed a hosting role on This Morning, says: “Alongside milk and cookies, my son and I will be leaving out a Mary’s Meals gift card for Santa to pass on to a hungry child this year. These Christmas gift cards cost just £19.15 and will feed a child with Mary’s Meals for a whole school year.

“Christmas is a time for giving, and there is no better gift than the gift of hope for a hungry child. Mary’s Meals brings joy to children all year round, and these beautiful cards will allow you to give that joy in the form of a life-changing daily school meal. It’s also a great opportunity to introduce children to the idea of giving back at Christmas and showing them how they can help others at this special time of year.”

By purchasing a gift card from the Scotland-based charity, your support can have a huge impact on the life of a child, like Sushila, this Christmas.

Sushila lives in a rural part of Jharkhand, India. Her father died of a snake bite and her mother was unable to support Sushila without his income so she went to live with her grandparents. Sushila has to walk 8km each way to school every day, but she is determined to keep studying. Sushila says: “There are many times when I don’t eat at home, so when I eat at school it gives me lots of energy and I feel great. I like to study and want to change my life, so the food is a big bonus.”

Dan McNally, Head of Grassroots Engagement, at Mary’s Meals says: “We’re so grateful to Jean for spreading ho-ho-hope this Christmas and helping us to reach the next hungry child waiting for Mary’s Meals.

“Our beautiful Christmas cards and gifts will not only put a smile on the faces of your friends, family and Santa Claus himself, but crucially, will change the lives of hungry children living in some of the world’s poorest countries.”

Gift cards, Christmas card packs and other festive gifts including mugs, dog bandanas and 2024 calendars are available to buy now from

Until 22 January 2024, donations made to Mary’s Meals will be doubled by a group of generous supporters, up to £1 million.

The charity is encouraging people to Double The Love this Christmas during this period so they can help Mary’s Meals to provide a nutritious daily meal in school for hungry children living in some of the world’s poorest countries. To donate, visit

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