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Perfectly healthy but 'ugly' vegetables feed hungry Kenyan students

Christian Fernsby |
Hundreds of tons of fresh and edible vegetables which are typically dumped because they do not meet the aesthetic requirements for export are ending up on the plates of hungry Kenyan students thanks to the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP).

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Topics: KENYA   

Each day, farms in Kenya reject up to 83 tons of perfectly nutritious vegetables simply because they are considered too ugly and off-putting for consumers, especially in the developed world, to buy.

WFP has piloted a project in three schools in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, which has provided 11,000 pounds or 5.5 tons of green beans, peas, and broccoli which has been tuned into lunch for 2,200 children over 75 school days.

“These are vegetables that are either oddly shaped, longer or shorter than the desired size for packaging, or simply blemished, but perfectly nutritious and fit for consumption,” said Dina Aburmishan, a WFP nutritionist in Kenya.

While the U.N. World Food Programme tested off-site catering in the first phase, the next step will explore on-site food preparation. This gives schools more ownership of the programs — a prerequisite for the eventual handover.

“One thing we know for sure is that the students like the vegetables,” said Dina. “Now we have to figure out how to harness this wonderful source of cheap, fresh food that is being wasted, in order to supply school meals in an affordable and sustainable way.”

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