The Government has fully taken control of the School Feeding programme of some in Arid and Semi-Arid Regions in the country.
The control follows the formal handing over of the programme to the government by the World Food Programme (WFP) at Armanet Primary, Isiolo County today.
The Principal Secretary for Early Learning and Basic Education, Dr. Belio Kipsang said the Government will continue providing food to learners who WFP had been supporting.
Dr. Belio, who represented the Cabinet Secretary for Education, Amb Amina Mohamed, said the Government had allocated some Shs.2.5billion to cater for some 2million pupils under the school feeding programme.
He said the 1.6 million pupils are now receiving meals under the Government wholly owned and resourced national school meals programme.
He said the number of children under the Home Grown School Meals Programme (HGSMP) has steadily increased from 540,000 in 2009 to about 1.6 million in 2018.
He said the government had been gradually taking over the task of feeding the learners, noting that with the full handover, it will cater for about 2million children an additional 400,000 WFP has been supporting.
Dr. Kipsang said the School Meals and Nutrition Strategy would guide government provision of the food to ASAL areas.
“The key objective of school feeding programme is to enhance access to basic education and more specifically ensure that school children are well nourished, healthy and able to learn,” he said.
WFP Country Director and Representative Annalisa Conte thanked the government for taking up this noble responsibility, saying school meals are one of the most important and dependable safety nets for children and their families in Kenya.
“They are a powerful incentive for families to invest in education, despite their livelihoods being under stress. A daily hot lunch means more children attend school, they stay the whole day and get an education that helps them become more productive in future” Conte said.
She said WFP will continue giving technical and logistical support to the government as it implements the programme.
“WFP will remain a key partner to assist the Ministry to achieve its Vision 2030 at both national level and county levels – both as a partner who can support the government lead on service delivery and as a provider of technical guidance to realise the objectives outlined in the new strategy,” Conte said.
Home-Grown School meals are cash-based, meaning that schools receive a cash allocation each term from the Treasury to buy food for school children from local markets. This model boosts not only school attendance but also local economies and agricultural production.
Having completed the transition of all the semi-arid areas in 2012, the Government started gradually taking over the more arid counties in 2015, starting with Isiolo County in 2015 and completing the process in June this year.
For the current financial year (2018/2019), the Government has set aside Ksh2.4 billion for school meals.
Some 1.6 million pupils at more than 4,000 schools will each receive a hot lunch daily under the school meals programme this year – now all financed by the Government of Kenya.