Even in the cruel face of coronavirus which has seen schools closed for over a month now, Wawira Njiru zeal to feed school children has not faltered at all.
Njiru, a 29-year-old nutritionist from Ruiru, Kiambu County founded the Food For Education, a non-profit which has been providing quality meals to children from underprivileged families.
She delights in the fact that she has so far provided one million meals to 10,000 children who have enrolled with her organization’s meal programme.
However, with schools closure from March 15, 2020, she has shifted her course and is supporting these kids while in their homes. Food For Education has been supplying rice, beans and maize to these families all in the effort to ensure these kids do not sleep hungry.
In a feature by CNN, she said she conceptualized the idea to start the non-profit in 2012 when she was still pursuing her nutrition studies at the University of Australia. She hit the ground running with nothing much but a stove which would only cook for 25 children but now has a running 24-hour kitchen which supplies cooked food to 13 schools for lunch.
She averred that her food has enough proteins which lack in many kids’ diets because it’s “more expensive than carbohydrates and vegetables,” adding that “our meals provide 40 percent of the recommended daily allowance for a child.”
To enable her to work efficiently, she has partnered a software company, Terra software that developed wristbands for the children known as Tap2Eat. Essentially, the wristbands are wired to a virtual wallet which parents contribute about 15 percent of the total cost of food offered via their phones while those that cannot afford, get free lunch.
“We have an algorithm that helped us determine [and] predict vulnerability based on frequency of payments for lunch,” Njiru stated.
Her programme has since boosted school attendance and performance.
“In Kiambu County, I think we are the most improved school,” Ruth Wanjiku Njoroge, the headteacher of a school in the Food For Education programme noted.
Njiru’s vision is to increase the number of children under the programme to 30,000 once the pandemic is over. She plans on opening a second kitchen. By 2025, she hope to have fed 1 million children.
Once the pandemic is over, Food for Education plans to open a second kitchen, giving the group the capacity to feed 30,000 children, she says. “Our goal is to reach a million kids a day by 2025.”