Government launches school feeding programme

Children having a meal at the Likoni School for the Visually Impaired. PHOTO: COURTESY.

Nairobi,KENYA: The government has launched school meals programme for schools in Nairobi slams, semi and semi-arid areas of the country.

The programme named national school meals and nutrition strategy 2017-2022, is to kick off in the month of June 2018, taking over from World Food Programme (WFP) that is expected to continue offering just technical and material support when a need arises.

During the launch on Wednesday, Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Muhammed noted that the government will allocate 16 billion in this financial year to enable to feed approximately 2 million students in areas like Mandera, Turkana, Garrisa and Nairobi Slams areas.

“WFP is supporting another 500,000 children in the arid counties of Mandela, Wajir, Garissa and Turkana and the slums of Nairobi using a mix of cash and in-kind food assistance. As part of the sustainability strategy, the Government is planning to take over the whole feeding programme from WFP by the end of June 2018. However, it is expected that WFP will continue to offer technical and material support when need arises” Said Amina.

She added that the strategy, will address key areas of concern for school meals provision in Kenya like Hunger, malnutrition and unfolding negative impacts among school-age children and also the Need for sufficient and stable financial sources for school meals at all levels.

“At the same time, students who received school meals scored higher on the KCPE exam by about 7 percent than those without. Additionally, girls who received school meals finished primary school at a higher rate than those who did not; and boys who received school meals entered secondary school at a 10 percent higher rate than those without.” She said.

Speaking during the same event, WFP country representative Annalisa Conte said that evidence from evaluation has demonstrated that school meals are one of the most important and dependable safety nets for children and their families in Kenya.

“The meals are said to represent an indirect income transfer to households and a powerful incentive for families to continue to invest in education, despite their livelihoods being under stress.” Said Annalisa.

The Government of Kenya initiated school meals activities in 1980 in collaboration with the United Nations World Food Programme. Since then, school meals have remained a core development intervention to support the country’s achievements in the education sector.

The Ministry of Education is in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and Health in order to foster the agenda of the big 4 of the government.