A lifeline amidst hardship: School meals keeps kids in school

At just 15, Faith has seen the desperate lengths children will go to for food. She talks of girls who marry the ‘boys on motorbikes’ who ferry passengers around the dry, dusty villages of southern Kenya, because they earn money. Others have ended up pregnant to the motorcyclists, dropping out of school early to become teenage mums.

Faith says children are doing what they can to help their families eat, as successive droughts in Bamba push households to crisis point.

‘We go to cut trees to make charcoal for sale so that we can get food . . . sometimes we would force ourselves to cut trees while feeling hungry’, she says.

Kilifi Primary head teacher William Thoya, says hunger had caused many children to drop out of school, simply because they were too weak to walk there.

“The (parents) began resorting to leaving their children behind for days at a time while they went to other areas where bigger trees grow, to make charcoal to sell at the market. The money they earn is rarely enough to cover the families’ needs, but people in the area have no other way to make a living.” – William Thoya, head teacher, Kenya

But the desperate children and families in the region have been given a lifeline which is starting to pay dividends. World Vision introduced a school feeding programme in January 2023 to support students with urgently needed food aid in Kenya. Supplies of maize, beans and cooking oil were provided for every student at 12 schools in the region, and the impact was immediate. In the first term alone, school attendance at one school, Kilifi Primary, rose by about 40 students. World Vision provided a second supply of school meals in Term 2, with donations from local staff supplementing funds from sponsors.

“When you arrive at school and have not eaten at home, sometimes you get into class, and attend one lesson and the following lesson you feel sleepy because of hunger. But I come to school because now at lunch time I will get food. If you stay home there is no food. When I finish schooling, by the grace of God, and He enables me to grasp what I learn, I promise to educate myself to get work and be able to support my parents.” – Faith, 15, Kenya 

Faith, 15, smiles while holding a her school lunch

Faith says the school meal programme was extra incentive to go to school. She plans to study to become a teacher, so she can help give back to her family and community.


For many vulnerable children like Faith, school lunch is more than just a meal, its the hope for a better and brighter future.

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Written By: 
World Vision Singapore