Urban Public Food Procurement in Kiambu and Machakos Counties as a Driver of Food and Nutrition Security and Sustainability

Julian Z. Xie, Kathrin M. Demmler, Ann Trevenen-Jones and Kelly D. Brownell

Urban public food procurement can address malnutrition and improve the beneficiary experience at public institutions whilst reshaping food systems to be healthier and more sustainable. The authors reviewed grey and peer-reviewed literature on urban public food procurement in Kiambu and Machakos counties in Kenya. From the literature, they selected programmes for case study research through stakeholder interviews and targeted literature searching. They searched 11 databases and reviewed 23 relevant articles. The case studies involved early childhood education centre and primary school feeding, hospital food provision, and COVID-19 responses.

The study found that actionable data and public–private partnerships are enabling factors. Similarly, multistakeholder involvement and governance increase coordination. However, budget constraints threaten programme stability. Procurement criteria focused on nutrition, food quality, and community development, but did not explicitly include environmental sustainability. The authors linked case studies to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, and 12. By developing, improving, and scaling public food procurement, urban governments in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) can reach the most vulnerable whilst improving farmer livelihoods, creating business opportunities, and addressing environmental concerns.

This paper contributes implementational insights in Kenyan urban contexts by highlighting opportunities for local and regional policymakers in LMICs and their partners to strengthen public food procurement.

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