Pupils in Nairobi County's Early Childhood Development Education centers will start receiving free milk next week.
Governor Mike Sonko unveiled the programme on Friday in partnership with Brookside Dairy Limited.
During the launch at Martin Luther Primary School in Makadara Constituency, Mr Sonko said each of the 17,000 children at all the public ECDE centers in the city will get a packet of milk twice every week.
“I have been informed of the excitement this project has brought to the children. More than 200 children have re-enrolled to school since September 7, when we began distributing the milk. This project not only improves nutrition and keeps hunger away but also puts a smile on every child’s face," he said.
“I will never forget the story of one child who, after receiving his packet of milk, started crying for an extra packet to take to his younger brother at home who had nothing to eat. Many other children want to carry the milk home to share with their families."
The Governor said he expects the enrollment of children in ECDE centers to increase from the current 17,000 to about 23,000 children by December.
“To maintain high quality standards of education, my government is in the process of engaging 520 ECDE teachers for deployment as soon as the Public Service Board completes the recruitment process. Every ECDE centre will receive at least two more teachers before the end of the term," he said.
The Governor also promised to build a modern ECDE center in every ward in Nairobi.
He noted that 10 - Utawala, Pipeline, Nyayo Highrise, Ngei, Ngando, Mabatini, Lucky Summer, Laini Saba, Kware and Imara Daima - do not have a public primary school and such a centre.
"My government is finalising a proposal to end this marginalization,” he said.
Sonko also said his administration will contract a security firm to provide at least four guards in every ECDE center to ensure maximum security for the children.
Brookside Dairy Group Chief Operating Officer Faiz Taib said the school milk programme reinforces the company’s commitment to building a healthier generation by offering nutrition education in schools, while communicating the importance of having dairy products as part of a healthy lifestyle.
“We are therefore confident that the Brookside Dairy Free School Milk Programme will increase both school attendance and retention levels, both which are vital for the realisation of the country’s national goals of education,” said Mr Taib.
Nairobi County Education executive Janet Ouko said her office will ensure the programme is successful by coordinating the distribution of the milk to all the 229 public ECDE centers within Nairobi.
Kenya Dairy Board Chief Executive Officer Margaret Kibogy, Nairobi County executives and other top county officials also attended the launch.
Ms Kibogy hailed the initiative saying it will address the nutritional challenges children face especially in informal settlements.