Food is powerful. It brings us together, shapes our memories, and empowers our communities. Though easy to forget while we’re rushing through our day, sharing a meal is an intimate experience. Sharing a meal is a simple, yet sacred occasion. Through the Smart Children Club, we have embraced the food program initiative. The program has also given rise to a garden where the children are learning farming skills and growing their own vegetables.
“When we talk about a prosperous nation, we have to talk about investing in nurturing human capital. This starts with children. Only if a child is well-nourished can he or she develop and grow well, stay healthy, learn well and be able to reach his or her full potential.” words from UNICEF Representative to Kenya Maniza Zaman. From our daily engagements with the children in the informal settlements in Nairobi, we have noted with concern that a lot of children we serve suffer from malnutrition and are in dire need of food and mental health services. Thus, through the Smart Children Club, we have embraced the food program initiative that has seen the children share nutritious meals together.
The feeding program has over 300 children who are members of the Smart Children Club, a program that brings together children from various schools and empowers them so as to prevent several social vices endangers the lives of the children such as Teenage Pregnancies, Drugs and Substance Use and violence against children among others through Peer Education using ‘’Teens4Teens Approach amalgamated with talents’’ see the links:
Due to inadequate resources out of the 300 children we have only been able to share meals with 100 children weekly since September 2021. Despite this challenge, eating together continues to provide a time for us to foster a connection with the children. This helps the children feel loved, safe and secure. Once the children are well fed they feel loved and valued; they also become more active, healthy and productive during our weekly mentorship programs.
Intentionally eating together has created time and space for us to engage in spiritual and intellectual levels with the children. Sharing food has cultivated our sense of community while there are other places people meet, gathering around a meal is the most accessible because if nothing else, everyone must eat.
“When we talk about a prosperous nation, we have to talk about investing in nurturing human capital. This starts with children. Only if a child is well-nourished can he or she develop and grow well, stay healthy, learn well and be able to reach his or her full potential,” said UNICEF Representative to Kenya Maniza Zaman. Nutrition also boosts immunity, giving both children and adults better protection against diseases, including COVID-19.”
From our daily engagements with the children in the informal settlements in Nairobi, Child Space Organization has since noted with concern that a lot of children we serve suffer from malnutrition and are in dire need of food and mental health services.
The Smart Children Club attracts serves children from various Korogocho Slum, Baba Dogo, Kariobangi, and Lucky Summer where Child Space Organization is located. To mitigate the hunger situation, we commenced by conducting monthly birthday parties for children from November 2020 just to boost their morale, Self-esteem and create hope for a better tomorrow for every Child.
According to the latest Kenya Demographic and Health Survey, more than a quarter (26 percent) of children under the age of five are so malnourished that they have become stunted or too short for their age. This has both short and long-term consequences for the individual, society and economy. Rates of stunting are as high as 46 percent in some counties like Kitui and West Pokot. The Survey also shows that across the country, more than one in ten children (11 percent) are underweight, with four percent being wasted, or underweight for their height.
Evidence from the recently released Kenya Cost of Hunger Study (2019) shows that this has a huge economic cost: the country lost 6.9 percent of its Gross Domestic Product due to undernutrition in one year (2014). However, according to An Investment Framework for Nutrition in Kenya by UNICEF, World Bank and Ministry of Health (2016), for every 100 shillings invested in nutrition, we see a 2,200-shilling return.