Oserian kicks off free schools meals programme

NAIVASHA, Kenya: 1,500 students of Oserian Primary School, a public school, will now benefit from the flower farm’s food programme that has kicked off in Naivasha.  A cup of nutritious uji (porridge) for breakfast and a plate of food for lunch, provided as part of the flower exporters CSR programme, is a big relief to students and parents who no longer need to struggle for these two meals.

Pupils say they are happy to get a hot cup of uji and a hot lunch. In the past, they had to make do with cold food carried from home and those who couldn’t carry a meal skipped lunch.

Oserian Administration Director Mary Kinyua said the school feeding programme is part of the company’s contribution to the success of the Government’s Big 4 Agenda – food security and Education. By keeping well-fed in school, children can concentrate on their education.  She disclosed that a needs assessment identified that feeding children was a gap that required intervention.  Due to a variety of reasons, pupils went to school without breakfast and some skipped lunch and this was clearly affecting their performance.

The school meals programme also aims to increase enrolment in the school because the assurance of a meal will encourage children to attend.

Late last year, Oserian unveiled a new building consisting of eight classrooms, constructed to prepare for an envisaged increase in the school-aged population as the firm’s industrial park takes shape. It is expected that the number of people living in the Oserian village will surge to about 20,000 from the current 11,000, as investors take up space at the business park.

Chef Richard Lang’at who’s in charge of the programme said feeding children is one of the best contributions a business can make to community development.  He added that parents of the school, most whom wake up at 4am to prepare for work, no longer have to worry about breakfast and lunch since the company has taken the burden off their minds and pockets.  Breakfast is served between 6.30 – 7am, before lessons start at 8am.

Approximately ksh 13 million has been put aside for the food programme, partly contributed to by the farm’s partners through the FairTrade premiums.

Education, a key pillar of the Oserian Development Company community support programme, under the ‘Flowers for Schools’ slogan.   Other key areas of focus for the programme are food security, health and nature. Oserian is the largest flower farm on the shores of Lake Naivasha, established in the late 1960s by the Zwager family. It produces high quality flowers for export, utilising modern technology to grow 160 hectares of roses, 40 hectares of carnations and 25 hectares of green fillers. Oserian provides livelihoods for over 4600 workers who enjoy an industry-leading range of benefits and world-class working conditions. It has invested in environmentally friendly green technology for its production process – including natural methods of pest control. It has pioneered the use of geothermal energy in flower production, through climate control of its greenhouses.

Photo: Pupils at Oserian Primary School enjoying a cup of uji (porridge) and lunch at their first day of school following the introduction of the School feeding programme by Oserian Development Company.

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