In the latest pre-ceremony announcement from The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2022, it is revealed today that the recipient of the Icon Award 2022 is Kenyan nutritionist Wawira Njiru, founder and director of non-profit Food for Education. The Icon Award celebrates an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the food world worthy of international recognition and who has used their platform to raise awareness and drive positive change.
With an estimated 80% of children in Kenya not receiving a school meal, Njiru believes no child should have to learn on an empty stomach. After majoring in food science at university in Australia, she founded Food for Education in 2016, at first making 25 meals a day. The organisation now feeds 40,000 children daily, providing nutritious meals to those in schools across Kenya, helping to boost attendance at primary level and combat hunger. It has delivered over seven million meals to date, leading to improved nutrition, academic performance and higher high school transition rates.
By sourcing fresh food directly from farmers, Food for Education has also been able to help stimulate the local economy. Meals are prepared in a central kitchen to internationally recognised food safety standards, while the subsidised meals are delivered to students with the aid of cutting-edge sustainable technology. During the pandemic, the organisation also provided food packages and cash transfers that delivered over two million meals to children and their families at home due to COVID-19.
Food for Education utilises Tap2Eat, a digital mobile platform whereby parents can pay for the subsidised lunches with mobile money. The amount is then credited to a virtual wallet linked to an NFC smart wristband, which students can wear and use accordingly, meaning no cash transfers and no lost money. Njiru hopes to expand the programme across more of Kenya and potentially beyond.
William Drew, Director of Content for The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, says: “The Icon Award recognises true trailblazers in the food sphere and we’re honoured that this year we can present it to Wawira Njiru for her exceptional work.”
Additional special awards will be revealed in the lead-up to The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2022 awards, sponsored by S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna, taking place in London on 18th July.