Bringing children the taste of a brighter future
Tonight one in nine people around the world will go to bed hungry. Furthermore when children have a chronic lack of the right nutrition in their diets, it can cause irreversible damage to their cognitive and physical development.
At Unilever, we believe that investing in nutrition is an investment in the next generation. Providing nutritious food to children at school can support their educational development and give them a chance of a brighter future. This is why Unilever and the United Nations World Food Programme are working together to provide nutritious meals to school children around the world.
Maria-Andrea Rodriguez is the 2014 Unilever Foundation Global Ambassador for the World Food Programme (WFP). She travelled from Colombia, where she works in Unilever’s finance department, to Kenya to see how the Unilever Foundation is supporting WFP to implement an innovative school meals programme that provides nutritious, cooked meals to children while enhancing the livelihoods of smallholder farmers.
Watch the video below of Maria-Andrea’s trip to Kenya and see the school meals programme in action.
Supporting the WFP Home-Grown School Meal Programme
In 2014, the Unilever Foundation began supporting the WFP´s Home-Grown School Meal Programme in Kenya which involves the whole community, from smallholder farmers to children in the local schools.
This Programme is helping smallholder farmers to increase the quality and quantity of their crops, which are then supplied to local schools. Women from the local community use these locally sourced ingredients to cook nutritious school meals which provide an incentive for children to attend class. At the same time, parents and teachers are empowered to manage and take ownership of their own school meals programmes.
Maria-Andrea visited the Samburu Complex and the Laresoro primary schools which are participating in the programme to meet with teachers, parents and pupils. “These school meals don’t just provide children with the right nutrition,” she says. “They also encourage children to come to school and stay there. It is very often the only meal they get during the day”.
Teachers at the schools agree that their pupils concentrate better after having a nutritious cooked meal, helping them to benefit more from their lessons and improve their chances of a better life.
Creating a brighter future for smallholder farmers
The Home-Grown School Meal Programme also helps enhance the livelihoods of smallholder farmers by providing opportunities to supply their crops to local schools.
Maria-Andrea visited a smallholder farmers’ cooperative called the Gakiuma Cereals Group, which is composed mostly of women. Whilst there she saw the long-term positive impact of the World Food Programmes work to empower these farmers through their work and support them to increase their incomes.
“I believe Unilever, as a foods company, can add so much value here especially in the fields of smallholder farming and nutrition,” Maria-Andrea says. “It has been truly eye-opening to see the impact we can create together. This is a start of a long-term collaboration that will help create a brighter future for generations to come, not only in Kenya but worldwide.”
This programme is also supported by Unilever’s biggest food brand Knorr. And you can be part of this as well. Find out how Knorr and WFP are working together on World Food Day on 16 October.
Your support – Zero Hunger pledge
We need your support to help make nutritious food accessible to millions more people around the world. If you believe every child deserves access to nutritious school meals, you can make a Zero Hunger pledge and join our community.