• Nairobi City County is building common kitchens that are using near-field technology to ensure 400,000 daily lunches are delivered to learners in 225 learning institutions in the capital city every day.
• Murang'a County is providing enriched porridge to 40,000 Early Childhood Development (ECD) learners daily, while Uasin Gishu County is providing nutritious milk to 40,000 ECD learners twice a week, to name but a few.
The First Lady shared two sad stories with the global audience on Friday that compelled her to start a school feeding program.
Rachel Ruto said the MaMa Feeding Program is more than just a response to hunger.
"It is a holistic strategy designed as an additional pillar to the foundations of our nation and our children. By ensuring that every child has access to nutritious meals at school, we are not only addressing immediate nutritional needs but also building a healthier, more educated, and more resilient future generation," the first lady said in a speech read on her behalf by Environment CS Soipan Tuya.
She said the program, whose slogan is 'Feed a child, educate a future', targets informal settlements and marginalised areas of our country, Kenya.
“Providing meals to learners at schools helps break the cycle of poverty through education. When a child receive at least one meal a day, they can concentrate on their studies without enduring the agony of hunger pangs and child labour for survival. Education is indeed a great equaliser, with the potential to lift whole communities and generations out of poverty,” the first lady said.
But how did the school feeding program start?
“Let me share the story of Faith. The year was 2017, when the First Lady, Mama Rachel Ruto (then the spouse of the Deputy President), joined some friends for a feeding activity at one of the informal settlements in Nairobi. At the venue, the children were asked to line up so that they could be served. As the exercise was going on, one of the attendants noticed this little girl, whom she had served just a few minutes before. Her plate gave her away because it had food remains. They were surprised that she was able to finish her food that fast,” Ruto said.
The first lady asked whether Faith had eaten and was coming for a second helping, the little girl answered that she could not eat because she had left her ailing mother and younger brother at home without food.
“She proceeded to show them the bag where she had put the first serving. They also learned that her name was Faith. Her story touched everyone. The attendant went ahead and served her enough food to take back home to her family.”
The First Lady said Faith represents many girls and boys in the global south, many of whom miss school as they join their families to look for food through begging or doing menial tasks.
“This puts our children at risk of sexual assault and early pregnancies. It also means that we are raising a generation that will not have gone through school, yet it is much needed and, in many cases, helps to alleviate poverty.”
Ruto said a plate of food a day removes the risk of compromising a child’s whole life and gives them back the power to determine their future through education.
In a similar story, the First Lady had gone to another informal settlement in Nairobi for table banking, which enables women and men who were previously financially excluded to save and borrow money from the table and use it to build their enterprises and repay their loans.
While at the table banking, Ruto observed that there were a lot of children on the streets.
When she got to the training venue, she noted that most of the ladies had come with their children, yet it was a school day.
The First Lady would later learn that the children were not in school because their parents were not able to afford school fees and were also struggling to feed their families.
Ruto said the program by the World Food Program and the School Meals Coalition is noble and timely, and that when the World Food Program approached her to be the champion, she was more than glad to accept it as it is fully aligned with what she is doing.
The first lady said President William Ruto’s administration aims to reach a transformative milestone by providing nourishing, climate-smart meals to 10 million children by the year 2030, up from the current 2.3 million children.
The national government partners with the 47 county governments by providing a matching fund for every shilling allocated by a county government for feeding.
Nairobi City County is building common kitchens that are using near-field technology to ensure 400,000 daily lunches are delivered to learners in 225 learning institutions in the capital city every day.
Murang'a County provides enriched porridge to 40,000 Early Childhood Development (ECD) learners daily, while Uasin Gishu County provides nutritious milk to 40,000 ECD learners twice a week, to name but a few.
The First Lady said the environmental benefits of the initiative are manifold, including reduced food waste, promotion of biodiversity, and conservation of natural resources.
Economically, it fosters a more robust, self-sufficient local food economy, creating jobs and sustaining livelihoods.