By George Munene
Kenyan nutritionist and food scientist Wawira Njiru has been named the UN in Kenya person of the year 2021.
The 31-year-old was recognised for her efforts to serve 33,000 meals daily to thousands of Kenyan primary school-going children through her Tap2Eat program that issues each kid with a smart wristband linked to a virtual wallet into which parents deposit money.
Through her organisation Food 4 Education, Wawira prepares and distributes nutritious meals at a reduced cost to public school children in Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, and Kiambu counties.
“The time is now for every Kenyan child to access nutritious meals in schools,” she stated during her speech receiving the award.
Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic that disrupted learning in most Kenyan schools Food 4 Education through its innovative technology, Tap2Eat, has served over four million meals to children who would otherwise have been undernourished.
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The non-profit was able to reach children with subsidised nutritious meals through strategic distribution centers and virtual cash transfers.
Through 2021 and 2022 Ms. Njiru has set up an additional three kitchens across the country.
The first in partnership with the Kisumu county government to feed an additional 10,000 children in the region.
The second is a pilot kitchen in Mombasa that serves 3,000 children which the company is looking to upscale to 40,000 children.
And a third state-of-the-art kitchen in Kiambu County that cooks with steam.
Kenya is identified as a country with a serious hunger crisis by the Global Hunger Index.
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26.9 per cent of the population is undernourished; 23.6 per cent of children under five years exhibit symptoms of physical and cognitive stunting; while 4.2 per cent of death in children under five are directly linked to undernourishment.
Food 4 Education is working to set up kitchens across the country and aims to serve up to one million school meals daily by 2025.