Nairobi County in conjunction with Kenyan charity Food4Education are on the verge of launching Africa’s largest school-feeding programme.

According to reports, the $8.6m (£6.7m) initiative is set to launch in August with the aim of providing 250,000 children living in the country’s capital Nairobi with a hot meal every day.

The programme will commence on August 28, coinciding with the start of the autumn term, and will generate employment for 3,500 individuals.

225 primary schools and Early Childhood Development centres have been selected and ten new kitchens will help provide the daily lunches as part of the programme and will employ 3,500 people.

According to Save The Children, 26% of children in Kenya are living with stunted growth due to malnutrition.

Kenyan President William Ruto reemphasized the government’s pledge to eliminate the shame of hunger in Kenya.

“We must eliminate the shame of hunger in our country. We will be deliberate and focused on ensuring successful implementation of the school feeding programme. The greatest indignity is for our children to go to school and fast because of lack of food,” he stated.

President Ruto announced that the government has allocated 5 billion Kenyan shillings ($36 million) to expand the current national feeding program from serving 1.6 million children to 4 million.

Nairobi city county executive, Suzanne Silantoi, held meetings with teachers and parents last year and revealed that most schoolchildren in the city go without lunch, damaging their ability to learn.

“We recognise the critical link between nutrition and learning, and that is why the county has institutionalised the school feeding programme. We expect improvement in attendance and performance in public schools,” said Silantoi.

Food4Education founder, Wawira Njiru, noticed that children were often the most affected by poverty. In Kenya, more than 36.7% of the population lives in extreme poverty, on less than a $1.90 per day.

She realized that a lack of food and nutrition made learning in the classroom difficult, which creates a profoundly unequal education system, and that addressing this gap could vastly improve educational outcomes.

“Hungry children cannot learn and I believe a prosperous future for my continent begins with no child learning on an empty stomach. When they’re not able to get the right nutrition, they’re not able to concentrate, they become irritable,” she says.

Technology has also played a vital role in Food4Education’s growth, as each child receives a Tap2Eat wristband linked to a virtual wallet, enabling parents to pre-pay 15 shillings ($0.11) for each meal.

“That partnership with parents is very important because when they chip in, they also feel that they are contributing to feeding their children,” said Njiru.