Milk for Preschoolers – Gaza
The six-year blockade on Gaza has taken a toll on Gaza’s economy and its people, especially young children. There is a chronic shortage of medicines and reasonably-priced nutritious food in the market place. Power cuts and conflict disrupt daily routines. But even before the closure, Gaza’s impoverished community was suffering health and eonomic challenges.
In a 2002 health assessment, ANERA discovered that Gaza’s children were suffering from anemia, vitamin A deficiency, and acute and chronic malnutrition. Many were at risk of irreversible physical and neurological damage.
To combat malnutrition and anemia among preschoolers, ANERA launched Milk for Preschoolers (MfP) in 2003. The program delivered one carton of fortified milk and a packet of fortified biscuits every school day to preschoolers throughout Gaza. This special daily treat contained essential vitamins that help the children grow up healthily.
MfP also incorporated teacher training and coordination with families to raise awareness about healthy lifestyles. ANERA contracted with a West Bank manufacturer to supply the fortified milk and biscuits as a way to also help boost the local economy.
The program started with 830 children in 13 preschools. At its end, in the 2010-2011 school year, nearly 20,000 children in more than 130 preschools benefited from the program.
How It Worked
- Every school day preschoolers in the program received a carton of milk and a packaged wafer, fortified with vitamins and minerals according to a formula determined by nutrition experts.
- Preschool teachers received training on how to increase awareness about health, hygiene and appropriate nutrition practices for children and their families.
- ANERA renovated and repaired preschools participating in the program to provide infrastructure that accommodated young children.
- ANERA renovated play areas to make them safe for young children, including sun shades and drinking fountains.
Meet the Families
A mother attending MfP health awareness sessions: “Our children are the most precious gift we have. These sessions give us important information about how to protect their health,”. Read the story >>
Five Gaza preschoolers sip their fortified milk while their mothers learn some tips on nutrition: “I used to prepare yogurt to go with rice for my children, but I have learned that salad is healthier and vegetables are cheaper than yogurt.” Read the story >>
“Time for play was always limited by the weather before the sun shade was installed. In winter and summer, children were not allowed outside at certain times because of the burning sun or the rain. Read the story >>