How Does Food Insecurity Impact Students?
Students are set up for success when they have a balanced diet. Anera helps make that possible.
Food insecurity is a serious issue in the regions where we work, especially for vulnerable families in Lebanon and Gaza.
The United Nations’ Committee on World Food Security defines food security as all people having physical, social, and economic access to sufficient and nutritious food. Food insecurity occurs when people are seriously limited in their ability to access healthy food, often due to poverty. People that are food insecure may skip meals or even go days without food, posing health risks over time, especially for growing children.
As the new school year approaches, it’s important to recognize the devastating, long term impact food insecurity has on students. In both Lebanon and Palestine, children may face serious barriers to learning in the classroom because they aren’t getting proper nutrition.
Anera’s Back-To-School Campaign will raise funds to address a multitude of issues that prevent children in Lebanon, Gaza, and the West Bank from going to and thriving in school, including food insecurity. As detailed below, several of our programs help ensure that children get the nutrients they need to access quality education.
Our Farms to Fosool (F2F) project in Gaza, for instance, delivers fresh, sustainably-made produce right into the hands of young preschoolers. A teacher at one of the participating preschools describes the benefits of the program: “We offer this healthy breakfast for the children every morning. It contains fruits, vegetables, milk, and cheese. Breakfast is mostly unaffordable for Gaza children because of the bad economy [and] many children come to school without food. This program ensures every child now has a meal.”
The results from our studies done alongside our F2F project show that children who eat breakfast before school have improved concentration, more energy and a higher intake of essential vitamins, resulting in better test scores, and even a healthier body weight.
Additionally, we understand that children must be properly nourished and provided for at home to succeed in their school environment. Inspired by the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal #2 (Access to Quality Education), Anera focuses on equipping families with small-scale farms. Anera has installed 49 rooftop gardens across Gaza, providing families with a ready supply of fresh, pesticide-free vegetables.
Suhad and her family, pictured below, are one of the participating households. She and her kids collect vegetables from their rooftop garden every morning to use in their daily meals.
Hydroponic rooftop gardens are an excellent resource to nourish families and garner income.
We also ensure that parents have the income they need to provide their little ones with food. Through our Women Can program, we support the small businesses of mothers who are the breadwinners in their families. Take for instance Ablah, a mother of four. Born and raised by a farmer, she is familiar with common agricultural practices, but lacked the resources to build her own greenhouse. With Anera’s help, Ablah and her family constructed a greenhouse, eliminating any seasonal restrictions to their farming.
Ablah’s greenhouse is not only a source of fresh, healthy food for her family, she also supplies the local markets with healthy produce she grows in the greenhouse. This provides Ablah with a steady income from year-round produce yields. “It is a small village. We call a grocer and they collect the produce from the greenhouses every other day and send it to Nablus and Qalqilya,” says Ablah, feeling hopeful about her and her family’s future.
Food insecurity becomes even more acute for children when they must walk several kilometers every day to get to school. To help expand access to early childhood education, Anera has been building preschools across the West Bank and Gaza.
Anera’s school construction projects integrate a long-term, sustainable model that combines physical improvements to school infrastructure with teacher training and curriculum developments. Anera has renovated or built at least 10% of Palestine’s preschools. These are public preschools — after each school is built, the Palestinian Ministry of Education takes over operating costs and teachers’ salaries, “ensuring sustainability of the project and cementing the community’s right to a quality education.”
In the neighboring region, many families in Lebanon are reliant on food donations and assistance from outside sources. Anera works as an implementing partner of the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) and through its programs we provide school meals to children, support farmers, and organize large scale food distributions.
Meet Amani, a Lebanese mother of four who was forced to move her children from a private school to a public school because they can barely afford the transportation costs, much less the cost of a private education. “We sold everything we owned to cover our food and medicine expenses. My husband was a truck driver, but he stopped working because of the high cost and scarcity of diesel fuel, and the drop in demand for land transportation to and from Lebanon.” Families like Amani’s, with nine members and no income, are entirely dependent on assistance.
This back-to-school season, we need your support to help children thrive. Anera’s programs are essential resources for so many families across Lebanon and Palestine, but achieving the UN’s SDG of zero hunger by 2030 is impossible without a collective effort. We are grateful for a donation of any size to help these students stay fed, with fresh, nutritious food preparing them to learn and succeed each and every day.
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