School teachers and guardians identified hunger as the primary problem affecting irregular school attendance and poor academic performance. Many children who come to school in the morning go home for the daily lunch break but return to school in the afternoon without having had anything to eat.
In response, the Umoja Project initiated a school-based lunch program which ensures that children have at least one nutritious meal each day. Currently, 3000 students at 18 primary schools receive a daily lunch of maize, beans, and vegetables, which is prepared and served by the children’s guardians.
The schools report that the program has had a very positive impact on the children, school and community, including
Improved performance in class.
Improved retention rate.
Improved health of children
Improved time management as no time is wasted going home for lunch.
Improved attitude of sharing.
Relief for the parents and guardians because they know the children are taking lunch at school.
Community empowerment through the sense of ownership the children’s parents and guardians have for the program.
In order to assure sustainability, Umoja is working with the schools to develop income-generating projects which will allow them to assume an increasing portion of the costs for the lunch program.