Bread - old hat or innovation?
Project Kandongu launches bread project, the first in the entire region
Bread- what is that?
"Don't say bread, say Super Loaf" is how the manufacturer of the "bread" brand advertises its product, which has taken over Kenya and East Africa almost entirely in the past decade. None of the small stores on the roadside doesn't carry it, this sweet, soft, white "bread" that everyone loves and which, through European glasses, can only be called sugared white toast - even though people here eat it without toasting.
Most remember very well the days before "Super Loaf." Boiled sweet potatoes, yams, aeroroots and other root crops from the home field provided a filling, healthy breakfast for generations. Today, every child (big and small) wants nothing more of it, "Super Loaf" must be on the table. Many in this country do not know that sugar is not healthy, here, where too much 'sweetness' does not exist. But even beyond that, "Super Loaf" offers no advantages: it is expensive and does not satiate. Some children proudly report that they devour a whole pack of "Super Loaf" in the morning - that's about 20 slices of toast.
Does not every culture have its "bread"?
Bread is considered one of the oldest cultivated foods. Especially in cultures that live off their own agriculture, if you come from a grain and bread culture, as I do, you expect bread on the table. Sourdough flatbread injera in Ethiopia, naan in India, cornbread in Mexico.... so East Africa also has a grain flatbread: Chapati. It doesn't need an oven to prepare, just a pan over a fire. However, chapati is considered a Sunday or festival food and is served with stew and meat and is quite time-consuming to prepare - so it doesn't fulfill the 'typical' bread purpose as a snack in between meals. In Kyrinyaga, the region where our two projects are located, wheat does not grow particularly well. Buying flour is expensive. So the idea of "bread" - even if it is the "Super Loaf" - is an innovation here. When I tease Kenyans, "That's not bread," they don't understand what I mean. "Super Loaf" is the first "bread" that they have come to know as such.
Bread project for healthier nutrition
In the Kandongu school project, we have now ventured a pilot project for the production of sugar-free bread. Against the skepticism of the children and teachers, who were rather put off by the idea of unsweetened bread, director Br. Francis Macharia wanted to know: A handmade fire-powered oven for 24 loaves of bread was commissioned, which now stands in its own small room, the 'Bakery'. To the simple dough base of water, flour, yeast, the local touch of sweet potato mash was added - to incorporate regional produce from the farm and evoke the taste of sweetness.
"For the first time, I'm not hungry and tired when I go back to class after the bread break." (student, class 6)
Baking now takes place every other day in the Kandongu school project. Employee after employee is instructed in the art of baking. And? The children love it. Every day at 10, they now eat 1 thick slice of homemade bread instead of 5 slices of "Super Loaf."
Director Br. Francis Macharia is relieved:
"I didn't think the children would embrace this type of bread. They eat healthier, are satiated and the school saves a lot of money. The school is now able to save 7000 Kenyan shillings (about 60 euros) every month. This is a full month's salary for the cook."
We believe that this project can make a big impact. Neighboring schools have already started ordering bread from Kandongu. Healthy nutrition and the reduction of expenses in one fell swoop - that convinces many school principals and bit by bit also the store owners who supply the village with "Sugar Loaf". Perhaps the shelves will soon offer healthy sweet potato bread at a low price...
"It's so simple. But an innovation for this region. We will expand the project and convince other schools and projects of this bread. Healthier and cheaper, who can say no."
Translated from German: Njoki.