Under terms of the 'Cricket Against Hunger' partnership, when the England team is on tour, UN's WFP will get cricketers to meet young children who depend on food aid to meet their nutritional requirements at school or in communities where they live.
''This is a splendid example of how sport can shine a light on a problem that takes the lives of thousands of children in some of the world's poorest countries,'' said WFP Deputy Executive Director John Powell, according to a statement released yesterday at UN headquarters in New York.
''Despite all the technological and medical progress we have made, hunger takes more lives each day than AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined,'' said Mr Powell, who is also in charge of global fundraising for the programme.
WFP already has a longstanding relationship with the International Rugby Board, which helped raise funds for the agency's work. A number of leading stars, including Brazilian World Footballer of the Year Ronaldinho, Kenyan world marathon record holder Paul Tergat and the Sri Lankan bowler Muttiah Muralitharan are WFP celebrity partners.
During the emergency relief operations after the 2004 tsunami, American football stars, including New York Giants wide receiver Amani Toomer, Kansas City Chiefs fullback Tony Richardson and former Australian rugby captain Nick Farr-Jones toured the worst-hit areas to highlight WFP's efforts to deliver food to survivors.
''Cricket Against Hunger" has already made its mark. Last month, during the International Cricket Council Champions Trophy tournament in India, four England internationals took time out from their training in Jaipur to visit children who receive food aid from WFP as part of a school feeding programme.
The players then played a quick game with the children before touring a factory that produces a highly nutritious food blend that is distributed to vulnerable groups in India.