Sunday, April 14, 2024

Social Entrepreneur, 29, To Feed Poor Kenyan Homes Amid Coronavirus


A Kenyan social enterprise run by a 29-year old impact investor is moving to create a central food bank for supply of basic food items to 6,000 poor homes with school-going children.

Food 4 Education, which has until now been feeding poor children in public schools, has opted for home supply following school closures to contain spread of coronavirus.

“We are mobilising funds to create a food bank that will provide six weeks of food to the school children already enrolled in Food for Education schools, as well as their families — a total of 30,000 people,” said Wawira Njiru, who founded the agency in 2012.

“Each family will receive a dry food basket that includes rice, beans, maize and maize flour sufficient to feed a family for six weeks, in the event that an ongoing lockdown disrupts their access to food staples,” she added.

The targeted families are those in Kiambu County.

The organisation, which has in-house chefs, has until now been providing subsidised lunch to schools in Kiambu at a cost of only Sh15 ($0.15) per pupil. The food is sourced from local farmers, providing them with a ready market while tackling malnutrition among pupils from low income households and improving attendance in public schools.

To date, over one million low-cost meals have been provided. In 2018, Njiru was awarded the Global Citizen prize for Youth Leadership sponsored by American multinational Cisco.

Kenya has confirmed 31 cases of Covid-19 with tens of suspected cases quarantined for tests.

President Uhuru Kenyatta upon confirmation of the first three cases two weeks ago ordered closure of all learning institutions, sending learners home to curb a possible blow out.

To boost efficiency, Food for Education has embedded technology in its school feeding programme.

The organisation introduced Tap2Eat prepaid smart wristbands worn by pupils and which they tap on a smart reader that debits the cost of the meal and sends a phone notification to their parents letting them know their children have eaten. The whole process takes less than five seconds.

The Tap2Eat uses Near Field Communication (NFC) technology and makes it easier for parents to make and track payments for their children’s school meals (Sh15 per plate).

“Although there is no announced timeline to reopen schools in Kenya, we know the economic impact of COVID-19 will be felt for months to come. When school resumes, Food for Education plans to increase our meal subsidy for each of the 30,000 students who receive Food for Education lunches each school day,” Njiru said.

To soften the blow of the socioeconomic disruptions caused by coronavirus on parents, the agency looks to decrease the food charges when the virus threat blows over and schools reopen.

“We intend to increase our future meal subsidy and reduce the parent contribution from $0.15 (Sh15) to $0.10 (Sh10) for the entire 2020 school year.

This will provide relief to parents as they recover from the economic impact and ensure more children have access to nutritious meals once schools resume.”

Read also: Kenya: Four Million Women Live Below Poverty Line

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