Kenya Launches Largest Food Program in Africa.

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In an effort to fight hunger and boost educational achievements, Kenya is getting ready to launch the biggest school meals program in Africa, with the goal of giving 4 million primary school students daily lunches.

The project is a partnership between the Nairobi County government and the Kenyan non-profit group Food4Education, and it is expected to launch in Nairobi in August.

Ten new kitchens that are now being constructed will enable 225 primary schools and Early Childhood Development institutions in the Kenyan capital to feed 400,000 kids every day. 3,500 people will be hired as part of the plan beginning on August 28, the first day of the fall semester.

The $8.6 million (£6.7 million) project was co-funded by Nairobi County and Food4Education, a Kenyan non-profit that now serves meals to 150,000 city primary school pupils. According to Save The Children, 26% of Kenyan children have stunted growth.

William Ruto, the president of Kenya, said at the launch of the program on Tuesday, that “we must eliminate the shame of hunger in our country. We will be deliberate and focused on ensuring the successful implementation of the school feeding program. The greatest indignity is for our children to go to school and fast because of lack of food.”

The president said that to expand the current national feeding program from serving 1.6 million children to 4 million, the government has allocated 5 billion Kenyan shillings ($36 million) and pledged additional counties to contribute to boost the funds.

“We are going to match counties who have a plan on school feeding program, shilling for shilling, and if we do that we can actually feed 8 million children in our schools,” he said.

Suzanne Silantoi, the county executive of Nairobi city county, highlighted the close connection between nutrition and learning. She believes that the school feeding program will not only enhance attendance and performance in public schools but also help alleviate child hunger, a significant obstacle to school enrollment in Kenya.

It is important to remember that in 2012, Kenyan dietician Wawira Njiru started Food4Education in a makeshift kitchen at Ruiru Primary School that employed one chef and served lunch to 25 kids.

With the use of eco-briquettes and steam gas technology, the kitchens will be powered by renewable energy. Technology has also made a huge contribution to the growth of Food4Education: each child is given a wristband called Tap2Eat that is linked to a virtual wallet that parents use to pre-pay 15 shillings ($0.11) for each meal.

Additionally, the partnership between Food4Education and the county government of Nairobi will provide farmers with a market and employment opportunities.

 

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