KENYA – Kenyan nutritionist Wawira Njiru, founder and director of non-profit Food for Education, has been named as the recipient of this year’s World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards.
The Icon Award celebrates individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to the food world worthy of international recognition and who have used their platform to raise awareness and drive positive change.
Njiru’s immense contribution in providing nutritious meals to school going children in the last six years through Food for Education has earned her the accolade.
Founded in 2016, making 25 meals a day, Food for Education has grown in leaps and bounds to now feed 40,000 children daily, providing nutritious meals to those in schools across Kenya, helping to boost attendance at primary level and combat hunger.
It has delivered over seven million meals to date, leading to improved nutrition, academic performance and higher high school transition rates.
“I am honoured and excited to be this year’s recipient of the Icon Award for The World’s 50 Best Restaurants. Hungry children cannot learn or grow and across the world, school meals are critical to children’s growth and education.
“This has been especially exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic with school meals essential to recovery and rebuilding. I would like to acknowledge the entire Food for Education team that I work with and with whom I share this award, as they work tirelessly every day to provide these lunch meals.
“Every day we are working to ensure that more and more school-going children have access to nutritious meals and I am grateful for this award that recognises the critical work we are doing to end classroom hunger.”
By sourcing fresh food directly from farmers, Food for Education, has also been able to help stimulate the local economy.
Meals are prepared in a central kitchen to internationally recognised food safety standards, while the subsidised meals are delivered to students using cutting-edge technology to design a sustainable means of delivering high quality, wholesome food.
During the pandemic, the organisation also provided food packages and cash transfers that delivered over 2,000,000 meals to children and their families at home due to COVID- 19.
William Drew, Director of Content for The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, said, “The Icon Award recognises true trailblazers in the food sphere and we’re honoured that this year we can present it to Wawira Njiru for her exceptional work.
“The achievements of Food for Education in just six short years have been astonishing and we know that Wawira and her organisation will go on to do incredible things in the future, across Kenya and beyond.”
Food for Education utilises Tap2Eat, a digital mobile platform whereby parents can pay for the subsidised lunches with mobile money.
The amount is then credited to a virtual wallet linked to an NFC smart wristband, which students can wear and use accordingly, meaning no cash transfers and no lost money.
Njiru hopes to expand the programme across more of Kenya and potentially beyond and provide meals to 1 million children over the next five years.