Healthy school meals, healthy students
Meet Esther Ndwiga, the Head Teacher of St. Ursula Primary School and Junior Secondary, a public Girls Boarding School in Embu, Eastern Kenya. Esther oversees a community of 201 young girls, aged between 8 and 15. Esther's dedication to her students' well-being extends beyond the classroom. She advocates for a balanced diet that prioritizes nutritional value for her girls through fortified flour provided by one of the many Sanku millers in Kenya. Sanku is an inititative supported by Bayer Foundation, which works with small and medium-scale millers in Africa, empowering them to sustainably fortify their flour, and provide at-risk communities with access to nutritious food.
Sanku is currently working with 96 millers and has installed 103 dosifiers to reach close to three million people every day in Kenya. As the school head, Esther's responsibility is to ensure that the girls have enough to eat once the parents have paid the school fees. On a typical day, the girls' first meal is porridge, followed by a mid-morning snack. Lunchtime brings a hearty serving of ugali, a staple in Kenya, complemented by local vegetables.
Earlier this year, when Esther assumed her role as Head Teacher, she encountered a pressing challenge regarding the school's maize flour supply. The issue arose from concerns regarding the cost, quality, and hygiene of the flour supplied for consumption at the school. Determined to address this issue head-on, she sought a local solution by reaching out to the community surrounding the school. Being relatively new to the area, she had no idea where to source healthy and affordable flour. Her quest for a reliable source of clean flour led her to Lizhbrand Millers owned by Lydiah Nyaga, one of Sanku's partner millers in Kenya, conveniently located near the school. To read more about Lydiah and her impact on the local communities, click on the following link.
Upon receiving her first delivery, Esther was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the flour and that it was fortified with iron—an essential nutrient, especially for adolescent girls. She had found a much-needed nutritious and cost-effective choice for her students. Esther's commitment to her students' health has yielded remarkable results.
Esther Ndwiga, Head Teacher St. Ursula Primary School and Junior Secondary in Embu
“Now we have fewer cases of low hemoglobin (which can cause anemia) when we take our girls to the health center.”
The transformation was tangible, the meals are cleaner and tastier. The students no longer struggle to consume their meals. The clean, nutritious flour has made a significant difference.
Students at the dining room
Notably, Esther's endorsement of fortified flour extends to her own family. Her children at school and home now enjoy the same nutritious flour. Esther truly is a leader in her community who goes the extra mile to ensure that her children, whether at school or home, have access to the best possible nutrition.
Some of the students at Esther's school
Social Innovation Ecosystem Fund: Ending malnutrition through SANKU's innovative dosifiers
This article was authored by Christien van den Brink.