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Facilitating long term, sustainable change 

Feeding Futures is a local church response to improving food security in rural Kenya. Colin Clark explains more 

Feeding Futures3

I am part of the Chichester Baptist Church family and have been for more than 28 years, having seen all three of our children grow up and become Christians. At our daughter's wedding last year our senior minister noted we were the first family in which he had married all the children!

I served on the leadership team for a good few years and then worked with the church as the CAP (Christians Against Poverty) Centre Manager for seven years. Jenni, my wife, works with young people in the church and has special responsibility as the Church’s Safeguarding Contact mainly because of her wide experience as a health visitor specialising in Safeguarding practice and supervision.
We got to know Vanessa and Paul Bennett at the church in various ways, mainly at first through their counselling skills and interest in a Christian pregnancy options service. Later, Vanessa worked with me as a CAP debt coach. 


Feeding Futures  

Feeding Futures was formed in 2010 following a chance meeting Vanessa had with Peterson Githinji, head teacher at St Brendan’s Primary School in Kenya. Peterson told Vanessa about the impoverished nature of his local community and how children would faint at school due to the lack of food. 'Having always felt moved to do some work in Africa, I went out to see the situation for myself,' Vanessa explains.

Resolving to help the children of that area out of poverty, and with the help of supporters in the UK, Feeding Futures was born.

We are a Chichester based charity which provides school meals and sustainable farm training. This enables children, their families and communities in rural Kenya to become resilient, educated and independent of external provision for the basics of life. As well as improving children’s life chances by enabling them to make the most of their primary education, increased crop yields enable children to attend secondary school as fees can be paid from selling surplus food. 

Feeding Futures4

Furthermore, replacing the traditional donor/recipient relationship, Feeding Futures works in partnership with communities where both parties invest in and show commitment to the project.



The impact

Feeding Futures has provided around 160,000 meals per year since 2010 and has given farm training to more than 70 households. 

Our pilot project in a rural school near Molo in Kenya has demonstrated:

  • Increased school attendance

  • Improved child health

  • Improved national exam scores

  • Increased yields for parent farmers

'Feeding Futures' intervention has increased school attendance and the perceived value of education, while improving child health and national exam scores,' comments Joseph Chebor, Director of Education, Molo sub-county.

By combining meals for children at school with community training in sustainable agriculture, Feeding Futures works to improve the long-term prospects of disadvantaged, rural communities. We meet their immediate food needs and empower people to not just support themselves, but thrive.

The future

As Feeding Futures took off, Vanessa’s priority was to focus on her charity. A few years later when I retired after seven years with CAP, I was praying about what to do (apart from decorate the house!). Vanessa asked me if I’d like to become a trustee, as the then treasurer was considering retiring.

Jenni and I have supported this work from the early days, and I agreed after prayer and consideration to become the next treasurer. Within weeks I found myself visiting Foundations for Farming in Zimbabwe to learn more about conservation agriculture before travelling to the Molo region of Kenya to start planning a partnership with more schools in the region over the next five years.

 Feeding Futures1

On return from Africa, having talked through what was required with the locals in Kenya, we sat down and wrote a Strategic Plan for 2017-22 (a copy of which can be obtained on request.) 
Feeding Futures will work with each school community for five to six years, enabling them to gain the skills during that period to grow sufficient food to feed their family and provide food to the school. The plan is to review the school we’re working with now at 18 months to ensure we implement any lessons, and then work with a new school community each year. In total we’ll work with five-six schools at any one time. It is estimated that over the next five years Feeding Futures will affect the education and life chances of 2,200 children and impact the lives of 4,000 individuals through providing school meals and farm training.
Before providing school meals Feeding Futures needs to build the structures. We’re hatching a plan for a group of 10 - 14 people over 18 from a number of churches throughout the UK to work with the local rural community to build/complete the:

  • kitchen and store;

  • erect fascia boards, guttering;

  • install 10,000 litre water tanks to harvest the limited rainfall, and

  • help prepare the land for a comparative demonstration plot by building a secure fence round it. 

All this is needed to support the school meals provision and the sustainable farm training.

Churches interested to partner with us in funding or using their skills to build the structures should contact us by emailing me colinclark1225@gmail.com or Vanessa info@feedingfutures.org

We expect the build costs including kitchen equipment and silos to be £35-40,000 with ongoing costs for food and training.
If you’d be interested in helping us to reach many more children and their families at other schools across the Molo region here are some ways you could make it possible:

  • 12p for a meal! Just £5 will feed a class of 40 children Text SEED24 £5 to 70070

  • £10 will provide a half-day training session in conservation agriculture for 25 people Text SEED24 £10 to 70070

  • Would you or someone you know consider setting up a standing order to sustain the continuity of providing nutritious food to poor children?

  • If you already have one, would you consider increasing your standing order?

  • Who could you encourage to get involved as a volunteer ambassador?

  • Do you or someone you know have a fundraising skill or are willing to be sponsored for an unusual event?

  • Could you invite us to speak at your church or group?

  • Could you champion Feeding Futures to be your workplace charity? 

Thank you for reading.
More information is available from:
www.feedingfutures.org or by emailing info@feedingfutures.org

Baptist Times, 05/01/2018
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