Anera Restarts School Meals in Gaza for New Academic Year

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Anera has relaunched its integrated school feeding program this month, which coincides with the return to in-person classes at schools in Gaza. We began serving the freshly prepared daily meals again on September 15.

The program serves 12 preschools across Gaza, reaching 1,428 children. It hires 100 local farmers to provide fresh produce and 40 local women, who work overnight to prepare the breakfast meals fresh every morning. The program is funded with generous support from private donors, the Alumbra Innovations Foundation, and World Central Kitchen.

Far too many children in Gaza are going to school without breakfast. The 12 schools that Anera is partnering with are all in marginalized areas of Gaza.

*A note about meal packaging: Anera is committed to relying on reusable containers wherever possible. We are currently obliged to use Styrofoam due to the closure of Gaza and the prohibition on the importation of many goods into Gaza, including the metal food containers we hope to employ in the future. The program will shift to reusable containers as soon as we are able to obtain them.

“We’re enthusiastic to restart the project,” says Suad Lubad, Anera’s program officer for the program. “We had to stop the meals when school was suspended in Gaza due to the bombings and the public health crisis with COVID.”

Yet, Lubad says, “The social and economic situation has become even more difficult. Many families are affected by the crisis and continue to struggle to provide for their children.

“Providing daily meals helps promote nutrition and builds the habit of eating breakfast. We invite mothers to cooking demonstrations for meals that don’t use expensive ingredients. The idea is that no matter what their social or economic status, they can still provide their children with healthy meals.”

The program tracks children’s height and weight to ensure that they are growing at a healthy rate and receiving enough nutrition.

Mothers will attend three health awareness sessions covering child nutrition, common nutritional deficits in children, and cleanliness and hygiene in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Through these sessions, adult learning methodology will be used to discuss how to prepare children’s meals according to the MyPlate nutritional guide to ensure that each meal is nutritionally balanced.

Lubad says that “Breakfast is really valuable for the cognitive, motor and social development of preschoolers. And it helps them develop communication skills and selfcare, as the preschoolers learn to independently eat, wash their hands, and follow table manners outside of the home. These five areas are each essential for a holistic approach to child development.”

It’s exciting to engage farmers in our integrated school food program,” says Ibrahim Najjar, Anera’s project coordinator and agronomist in Gaza. “It delivers fresh produce right to the kitchen for meal prep. It always feels great to connect our projects in a way that has each contributing to the other.”


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