Teresiah's story


Teresiah is a school cook, smallholder farmer, and single mother who lives in Karati town in Naivasha district, Kenya. 

Last year her husband passed away, leaving her to raise her four children: Moses (16), Monicah (14), Gladys (12), and Serah (2). With the death of her husband, Teresiah became the family’s sole provider. She found herself in a constant search for money to look after her children.

When Teresiah heard that the school her children attend, North Karati Primary School, was providing school meals under Kenya’s national Home Grown School Feeding programme, Njaa Marufuku Kenya (NMK), she immediately went to find out more.

Home Grown School Feeding Strengthening the Community

 Teresia and_family

Home Grown School Feeding programmes benefit both school children and farmers; the free school meals not only encourage children to go to school but once children are in school, they are more likely to stay there.

As the food used to prepare the school meals is sourced locally from smallholder farmers, schools thus provide a ready market for local producers. Furthermore, HGSF programmes also benefit the wider community allowing for a number of community groups to be involved in food production and other income-generating activities.

At the school level, paid cooks and security staff are hired as well as those building the energy efficient stoves which are used in the schools for cooking. Preparing Food for a Living After initiating the provision of school meals, North Karati invited Teresiah to become one of the school’s cooks. 

"My children benefit from the school meals...they have improved in their performance in school."

In Teresiah’s new role, she was taught about cleanliness, how to handle the equipment in the kitchen as well as how to distribute the food evenly.

Livelihood building

Working as a school cook allowed her to gain an income and, and coupled with the fact that her two middle children get a free school lunch, this has allowed her to not only feed her own children, but she has also been able to pay the secondary school fees of her oldest son, and she was even able to build him a small hut of his own. Reflecting on her new livelihood.

"This job helps me a lot; I am no longer worried where to get money or find the next meal. Also when my child was in hospital I went to the Head Teacher and asked him for an advance so I could help my child…"
Teresiah cooking the school meal

Approximately 950 children are fed at the school and 192 of these children are orphans, for who this may be the only meal they eat during the day. Since the implementation of the HGSF programme, school attendance has increased from 70% to 95%. Teresiah has already noticed the difference eating at school has made to the children,

“My children benefit from the school meals. They eat in school and when they come home they no longer look for food as they are already full. They have also improved in their performance in school."

North Karati - An Entrepreneurial School


"This job helps me a lot. I am no longer worried where to get money or find the next meal.

Teresiah is amongst parents and the wider community who benefit from the services offered at the school. Through the school feeding programme, the school acts as an entry point for the transfer of agricultural technology and skills. This programme aims to provide the community with the techniques to increase the amount they are able to grow. 

Through this scheme parents and children have been trained by agricultural experts from the Ministry of Agriculture on the latest farming techniques on the school farm.

 As well as being a cook, like many in her community Teresiah is also a smallholder farmer growing maize and beans on her 1/2 acre of land near her house. From the free agricultural training provided at the school gardens Teresiah has been able to pick up new farming techniques  and hopes that her crops this year will produce a higher yield. This would enable her to supplement her income by being able to sell the excess crops.

Teresiah and livestock

“I am a better farmer now that I use the new techniques I've learnt. I can now feed my chickens and cow. Soon I hope to look for a bigger farm so I can get greater benefits from selling my produce. “says Teresiah.

An integrated government approach

 Kenya is at the forefront of initiating Home Grown School Feeding programmes. Recognising the worth of feeding school children with food procuded from local smallholder farmers the country has created the Home Grown School Meals Programme (HGSM) run by the Ministry of Education and the Njaa Marufuku Kenya (NMK) led by the Ministry of Agriculture.

Working closely together the two ministries' programmes target different communities, with the NMK targetting areas that have high and medium potential to grow food and the HGSM programme serving communities in areas of food insecurity. These two Home Grown School Feeding Programmes currently feed nearly 650,000 Kenyan children in over 1860 schools.

"I am a better farmer now that I use the new techniques I've learnt."