Kenya has taken this role at global level, advocating for the integration of food systems with education and environmental policies as an imperative for a sustainable future. It is a well thought out move, one that is supported by a clear roadmap, a strategy and a resourceful homegrown plan packaged to create sustainable value chains for local communities and rural smallholder groups and farmers.

The planet-friendly school meals programme will buy from local smallholder farmers, particularly women, aligning with a global understanding that empowering women in agriculture leads to more robust food systems as they are often the custodians of biodiversity and champions of nutritional needs in their local communities. All efforts are geared towards reducing the carbon footprint of the school meals program, a strategy that speaks to Kenya’s sustained actions in the areas of climate change mitigation and adaptation.

By prioritising locally sourced and sustainably produced ingredients in school meals, Kenya seeks significant progress in reducing the carbon footprint associated with food transportation and storage, which is a significant contributor to global greenhouse emissions as underscored in the White Paper.

The design of the programme will also help to tackle food-waste, promote biodiversity and conservation of natural resources. Economically, the initiative will foster a more robust, self-sufficient local food economy creating jobs and sustaining livelihoods.

Speaking recently at the Nourishing the planet, sustaining future event hosted by the School Meals Coalition at COP28 in Dubai, Kenya’s Environment and Forestry Minister, Ms. Rosalinda Soipan Tuya said her government is very encouraged to see how responsive the White Paper is to Kenya’s planet friendly school meals program design. “Kenya’s drive to scale up and implement our climate ambitions in school meals is something we felt we needed to reach all children with climate-smart school meals by 2030,” Minister Tuya said.

She said her government has demonstrated strong commitment to the planet-friendly school meals initiative. “Before we start mobilising resources externally to support our programme, Kenya has deliberately increased the school meals budget from USD15 million this year to USD40 million.”

She further explained Kenya is excited that as they scale up and improves quality of its programme it is creating value chains to benefit the poor. “This speaks right into the heart of our strategy and homegrown plan, which is a bottom-up transformative agenda that really targets the very people at the low level of the pyramid. For us this is essentially one effective way to alleviate poverty while take care of our children and our planet,” she said.