Nourishing Students

Working in an area of Kenya where ⅓ of all deaths of children under 5 are caused by undernutrition, our school lunch program began after teachers and guardians identified hunger as the primary problem affecting students’ attendance and academic performance. Children who are hungry simply can’t focus on learning.

Each school day, 4,371 orphaned or vulnerable children in 20 government-run primary schools receive a free lunch of maize and beans. Weekend and evening food is provided to 150 households in which children live alone without any adult present. The Umoja Partnership mitigates the principal barrier to education for vulnerable students by providing nutritional stability. Nutrition is especially important for our students because many of our families have limited access to proper healthcare. For some children, the lunch served by our nutrition program is the only meal they will receive all day.

Founded in 2008, our school nutrition program’s proven impact includes:

  • Increased attendance
  • Increased performance
  • Increased graduation from primary school
  • Increased matriculation to secondary school5

4,371 students served


Partnering with 20 primary schools

$25 annual cost per student

Enabled by Local Kenyan Partnership:

  • Our Kenyan Team (5) acts as intermediaries between the schools and families and includes project officers who are professionally-trained social workers.
  • Umoja Partnership provides the maize and beans for the program.
  • The students’ guardians and the schools provide supplementary vegetables, cooking supplies, storage and kitchen facilities, and cook staff.
  • 20% of the cost of this program is covered by the local community, evidence of how effective US – Kenyan partnership can extend the reach of our programs.
  • Schools have agricultural and livestock projects, which generate financial support for the program. These projects help sustain the program and promote self-sufficiency at the local level.

“The lunch program has been the best to me since it saved on my time. I didn’t need to walk home and maybe I could not find food at home. It also gave motivation since I could read comfortably without being hungry.”

- Emily

Former student, graduate of Kisii University with a Bachelor of Computer Science and Technology