Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition (FSN Forum)

Jacopo Valentini


We are happy to share with you the World Food Programme’s contribution for the CFS Call for experiences and effective policy approaches in addressing food security and nutrition in the context of changing rural-urban dynamics.

Many thanks and best regards,

Jacopo Valentini



Home Grown School Meals: the Example of Kenya


World Food Programme

Main responsible entity

  • Government of Kenya, Ministry of Education
  • WFP Kenya Country Office


Since 2009

Funding source

  • Government of Kenya
  • Various international donors




School meals

Every day at least 368 million children across low-, middle- and high-income countries are fed at school by their governments. There are good reasons for this: school meals provide children with nutritious food that is essential for their development and learning and, where children or communities are in difficult or disrupted circumstances, can help children find regular support for their daily needs in the classroom.

School meals in Kenya

WFP started school feeding in Kenya in the 1980s, but since 2009 the government has been implementing a government-led home-grown school meals programme (HGSMP). The home-grown school meals programme provides locally produced and purchased food to children in school, with the dual objective of increasing local food production and ensuring school attendance.

Home-grown school meals in Kenya

In 2016, the government-led HGSMP targeted 950,000 children in both arid and semi-arid counties. In parallel, WFP continued to provide school meals for 430,000 children in the arid lands and targeted schools in the informal settlements in Nairobi, that are not yet covered by the HGSMP, where national capacities are still constrained, enrolment and attendance disparities significant, and food insecurity and malnutrition high. To support the sustainable expansion of the HGSMP, WFP also prepared schools in Nairobi, Tana River and parts of Turkana for inclusion into the national HGSMP; this involved another 152,000 children.

In Kenya’s HGSMP model, funds are transferred from the National Treasury to the Ministry of Education and then to school accounts. The schools announce a call for tenders and buy food from local suppliers (traders or farmers). This model is used in both rural and urban areas, linking smallholder farmers to schools in both contexts.

WFP provides capacity development support to smallholder farmers, small-scale traders and food processors throughout the country. This is done through training and coaching, food purchases, donation of equipment and facilitation of access to structured markets. The training modules focus on post-harvest handling, agribusiness, financial literacy, gender and procurement processes for the home grown school meals programme (HGSMP) and other structured markets. As a result of these training and market linkage forums, targeted farmer organizations are now aware of the business opportunity offered by the HGSMP market and other markets.

With the support of WFP, the State Department of Agriculture, in consultation with other national and county government ministries, is developing a policy document to provide the basis for guaranteed mechanisms for at least 30 percent of foodstuffs for public institutions to be purchased from smallholder farmers.

Fresh food in Nairobi county

In 2016, WFP and the Government of Kenya also started looking at options to introduce fresh foods into school meals. Several models were initiated to test efficient and effective ways to incorporate locally sourced fresh foods in the school meals in Nairobi County. Three models are tested:

  • an additional transfer to schools to cover the cost of fresh food
  • using an off-site kitchen that aggregates fresh foods from the export market to deliver to schools
  • repurposing cosmetically unacceptable fresh foods T

These pilots are active in 88 schools in Nairobi county, reaching almost 80,000 students daily.


  • The objective of the HGSMP is to contribute to equitable access to quality education, improved retention, completion and transition rates, and provide a market for farmers.
  • The plan is to have a fully government-led school meals programme by December 2018. In the long term, at least 30 percent of the food should be purchased from smallholder farmers.

Key characteristics of the experience/process

  •  The programme is transitioning from a WFP-led to a government-led programme and in 2016 over 60% of the served school meals were managed by the government.
  • Both the government and WFP transfer cash to the schools, who are in charge of procuring locally the food for the school meals.

Key actors involved and their role

  • Government of Kenya, Ministry of Education: responsible for the government-led home-grown school meals programme
  • Government of Kenya, Ministry of Health: inspection of food quality
  • School Meals Committee: administers and manages, at the school level, all facets of the HGSMP implementation, including procurement, food preparation and reporting
  • Local traders: participate in tenders
  • Farmers’ organizations: inform farmers about market opportunities; aggregate supply
  • WFP Kenya Country Office: responsible for the implementation of the WFP-led school meals programme and home-grown school meals programme; capacity strengthening of the farmers and farmers’ organizations

Key changes observed with regards to food security and nutrition and sustainable agriculture and food systems

The HGSMP was evaluated by an external evaluator in mid-2014 and the evaluator found that schools had received a total of Ksh 2.2 billion for local food procurement between 2009 and 2014 under the HGSMP, effectively turning school meals into a major market opportunity for the local farmers.

The evaluation did not measure the changes in food security and nutrition. However, a meta-analysis of 42 studies of school meals programmes around the world found a positive effect on the weight-per-age of the school children: +0.24kg/child/year in pre-school feeding and +0.37kg/child/year in school feeding (Kristjansson et al., 2016).

A Local Economy Wide Impact Evaluation (LEWIE) of the Kenyan HGSMP is scheduled in 2017.

Challenges faced

In some regions of Kenya the access of local farmers to the market of home-grown school meals remained limited in scale because of: irregular transfers of funds to schools; inadequate communication; low awareness amongst potential suppliers during procurement processes; low preference of some schools for locally produced foods.

Lessons/Key messages

By 2019, with sufficient funding and the required legal frameworks in place, Kenya could have one of the largest locally procured and fully government-financed school meals programmes in Africa.