Preliminary results from a United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) study on a national school meals program in Kenya have shown a potential big impact on the local economy.
Initial analysis from the study has shown that for each Kenyan Shilling sent to a home grown school meals program school creates an additional 1.27 Kenyan Shillings, delivering much needed income in rural Kenya.
The study, which was conducted with support from Thai Union Group PCL and in collaboration with the University of California, Davis (UC Davis) Agricultural and Resource Economics Department, was created to demonstrate the potential local and national economic impact of a national program providing daily lunch to all 8.9 million children in public primary schools.
Data from more than 2,000 schools, traders, businesses, farmers and households is making it possible to estimate the returns generated by every dollar invested in a national school meals program, based on the sourcing of food products from local suppliers.
Thai Union’s support of WFP and the Home-Grown School Meals program in Kenya is in line with the company’s sustainability strategy, SeaChange®. Thai Union, a member of the UN Global Compact, is also working to deliver against the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through SeaChange®, including SDGs Zero Hunger and Decent Work and Economic Growth.
The results of the study also have the potential to demonstrate how such a program can dramatically improve the nutrition of schoolchildren while supporting local economies through a single policy. Success of the program could also result in similar initiatives being launched around the world.
"At Thai Union, we understand the importance of nutrition in a healthy lifestyle, and ensuring children have nutritious food to eat is critical in their development,” said Dr. Darian McBain, Thai Union’s Global Director of Corporate Affairs and Sustainability. “We’re excited to have been involved in this study, which also demonstrates how the school meals program not only has a positive impact on the children’s education but also the local economy.”
Nutrition is also a key focus for Thai Union in Thailand, where the company hosts regular workshops for children in communities where it operates. In 2018, Thai Union hosted a number of health and nutrition workshops for 750 students in Samut Sakhon province, educating them on nutrition so they can adopt healthy eating habits at a young age.
You can watch a video about the Kenya study here.