Wawira Njiru established Food for Education in 2012 with the aim of providing food to poor children in Kenyan schools. The organization has since provided food to over 9 million needy children through digital mobile platform ‘Tap2Eat.’
The initiative has led her to win several awards including the Youth Leadership Prize and UN Person of the Year in 2021.
Here is her story as told by WoK.
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Wawira Njiru was born on 27th January 1991 and grew up in Ruiru, Kiambu County. She attended local schools for her primary and secondary education. After completing her high school she joined the University of South Australia, in Adelaide where she graduated with a Bachelor of Nutrition Science degree.
Establishing Food for Education
In 2012 when she was still at the University of South Australia, Wawira hosted a Kenyan-themed fundraising dinner. She invited 80 guests who paid $20 for a plate of food which enabled her to raise a total of around Ksh 126,000.
She used the amount to establish Food for Education with an initial makeshift kitchen being set up at Ruiru Primary School serving 25 children. Over time, the number of children began increasing which led her to start several internet fundraising campaigns.
During a past interview, Wawira revealed that she established Food for Education after she understood the impact of poor nutrition to children.
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“I started Food for Education as a university student after I learned about the impact of poor nutrition, particularly on children, and the direct correlation between adequate nutrition and school attendance and performance.
Too many students go to school hungry – nit only in Kenya but around the globe – and this has detrimental effects on their ability to grow and learn. I wanted to create a solution to this,” she said.
What started as an initiative to feed 25 students at Ruiru Primary school has since grown to feed over 50,000 children daily across the country. So far, the organization has provided meals to over 9 million poor children.
According to Wawira, it costs approximately Ksh 30 to provide a meal to a primary school child. The parents of the children are asked to contribute half of the money and the organizations caters for the other half.
Food for Education has developed a mobile digital platform dubbed ‘Tap2Eat’ which allows parents to pay the Ksh 15 via mobile money in order to join the program. The organization uses a hub-and-spoke approach where food is prepared in central kitchens before being distributed to schools. A typical meal consists of rice, beans, vegetables and chapatti as well as maize, lentils and fresh fruit.
Awards and Recognitions
In 2018, Wawira was named in the Top 40 under 40 Kenyan Women. In December of the same year, she became the first person to win the Global Citizen Prize for Youth Leadership effectively becoming one of the Young Global Leaders.
In 2018, Wawira was also named among the 100 Most Influential Young Kenyans by Avance Media. In October 2021, she was named as the UN Person of the Year for her contributions towards helping the poor children.
“In recognition of her leadership and personal sacrifices in ensuring thousands of meals are served daily so that children don’t go to school hungry,” read a statement in the UN award plaque.
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