Schools in Kenya may be shuttered, but school meal innovator Wawira Njiru is working harder than ever. She’s making sure no child has to learn on an empty stomach.
Wawira Njiru founded her non-profit, Food for Education, in her Kenyan hometown of Ruiru when she was only 21 years old. The now 29 year old nutritionist runs a successful organization that has provided over 1 million meals to primary (elementary) school children from poor families who aren’t always able to give their children money for food at school. A big part of her mission is not just providing food, but ensuring that the meals are cheap and nourishing. As the world is currently going through a pandemic, school-aged children are arguably affected the most, particularly those who depend on school for breakfast and lunch as well as a safe and stable environment. Her focus now is on how her organization can support kids while they’re at home. Njiru says it costs $2 to provide a week’s worth of meals for one person, and with this money, Food for Education is able to supply dry staples such as rice, beans, and maize for the 10,000 children and their families enrolled in the school meals program. As the rest of the world has had to make the necessary adjustments to handle the circumstances we currently find ourselves in, Food for Education has also had to restructure its operation, switching from cooked lunches to dry food, meal planning, sourcing, and delivery, and for that, and many more reasons, she should be commended.
Njiru is an example of the positive things that can happen when people leave their home countries in developing parts of the world to study abroad and how bringing that knowledge back to your country can make a positive change. According to UNICEF, over a quarter of children under the age of five in Kenya suffer from chronic malnutrition. The meals that Food for Education serves provides 40 percent of the recommended daily allowance for children that she says is often lacking in children’s diets in Kenya due to the cost. Njiru says that children are more likely to attend school if an affordable lunch is provided, and according to one of the lead teachers at a participating school, test scores have also been significantly raised by children being able to have lunches. Njiru says her experiences have taught her the importance of tailoring aid to the community it is meant to benefit.
In an effort to feed the future, Njiru’s organization plans to reach a million kids a day by 2025. Her mission is aligned with the UN SDGs on zero hunger and good health and well-being. She is a firm believer that “our solutions [aren’t] coming from anywhere else except here. So that’s what we need to be investing in, here at home.”
If you would like to support her mission, you may do so here: