This document outlines a strategy for the design and implementation of nutrition-sensitive school meals in Kenya. It is based on the commitment of the Government of Kenya to ensure that school children are well nourished and healthy and are able to learn and develop to their full potential.
The national government commits to strengthening the National School Meals and Nutrition Programme. The government aims to ensure that all children in pre-primary and primary schools receive at least one nutritious meal per school day. This strategy provides a nationwide framework that underpins the design of school meals at both national and sub-national levels.
The strategy provides for counties, communities and schools to have their own initiatives, and it calls on partners to follow the guidelines herein. In this regard, the strategy emphasizes the need for national and county governments to closely coordinate their school meals initiatives.
A three-pillar approach is recommended for school meals in Kenya: i) regular provision of meals every school day throughout the school year; ii) acknowledgement of nutrition and nutrition education as core components of school meals; iii) linking smallholder farmers with the demand for school meals by procuring directly from these suppliers where possible.
Such an approach to school meals aims to unleash their multi-dimensional benefits. Within the African continent this approach is referred to as “home-grown school meals”. This strategy recommends the home-grown school meals approach as the most appropriate and sustainable in the Kenyan context. Evidence shows that home-grown school meals bring about improvements in children’s access to education and nutrition, whilst strengthening the food and nutritional security of children, households and communities. It also improves the access of smallholder farmers to stable markets, acting as a fruitful vector of local development.
This strategy is backed by the Kenyan Constitution (2010), which expressly recognizes access to food as a human right. The strategy is also underpinned by Vision 2030, which aims to transform Kenya into a newly industrialized middle-income country providing a high quality of life to all its citizens by the year 2030. Moreover, the strategy is fully in line with the Sustainable Development Goals, which place great emphasis on food security and eradication of extreme hunger and poverty.
Key plans and policy documents from relevant government sectors contributed to the elaboration of this strategy, including the education, health and nutrition, agriculture and social protection sectors and the Treasury.
Policies are progressive documents and this strategy shall be improved with the evolution of sectoral planning, so contributing to the inter-sectoral coordination of government sectors towards Vision 2030´s broader goals.
This strategy builds on existing policies to forge a national school meals framework, acknowledging school meals in Kenya are supported by multiple actors. The objectives of this document are to:
develop and implement a sustainable national school meals and nutrition programme;
increase awareness and intake of adequate, locally available and nutritious foods among school children and their communities;
improve the enrolment, attendance, retention, completion and learning outcomes of school children with equity;
promote local and inclusive development;
promote partnerships and multi-sectoral coordination for complementary support and effective implementation of a school meals and nutrition programme; and
strengthen governance and accountability in implementing a school meals and nutrition programme.
Finally, the national government acknowledges that resources for the National School Meals and Nutrition Programme must be increased as well as ring-fenced to ensure sustainability. This is because such a complex programme requires many resources, both human and non-human, for its effective implementation. The strategy therefore calls upon counties, communities and the private sector to join efforts towards the common goal of ensuring all school children in Kenya receive nutritious meals in every school.