“Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.”
-1996 World Food Summit
Despite being a country blessed with a physical availability of food, Lebanon unfortunately cannot be said to have truly established widespread food security; instead, a full diet is often accessible only to those who can afford it. Many families are simply too poor to eat every day, and even more cannot afford a nutritious or diverse diet. A large percentage of the nation’s population, especially Syrian refugees and daily laborers, lack any sustainable source of food, and if they do not work, they do not eat. Hunger and malnutrition can lead to severe health problems, including poor physical and mental development amongst children or even death. In addition, lack of sufficient food very often affects mothers first, as they may sacrifice their own diet to ensure better nutrition for their children. This situation is worsening with the current economic crisis, where inflation is causing the price of food to increase dramatically, leading many families to fall into debt just in order to purchase food.
Why food security?
Access to a complete, nutritious diet leads to an active and healthy life. By contributing to food security, we improve people’s health, ability to work and function, and ability to succeed in education, ultimately enabling the positive development of communities.
Food security programs at ISWA
- Distribution of food packs and vouchers
ISWA distributes food packs or food vouchers to ease the suffering of those living with hunger, focusing on victims of conflict and disaster, refugees and the internally displaced, daily laborers, and families that lack a breadwinner.
- Seasonal campaigns
- Ramadan: During the Holy Month, ISWA hosts community iftars, inviting orphans and their caregivers to break their fasts together, either at all Reaaya Park or Al Kheir Restaurant. The organization also delivers food packs to families in need, ensuring that they have food to break their fast during Ramadan.
- Adha/Qurbani: Each year during the days of Eid al Adha, ISWA packs and distributes fresh meat to thousands of vulnerable households, ensuring they gain access to what is a rare commodity in the diets of most poor people in the country.
- Community kitchen – Al Kheir Restaurant
Al Kheir Restaurant is a community kitchen, established in Saida in 2018 with the goal of feeding the city’s poor. Operating in Ramadan and all year round, beneficiaries are invited to receive hot meals prepared by staff trained in the culinary arts and hospitality. Those who are unable to visit the restaurant itself, especially the elderly, the sick, and the disabled, can have their meals delivered to them at home.
A few of last year’s highlights in the Food Security Sector
- Combating hunger by distributing food packs and vouchers to some 56,500 households throughout Lebanon
- Distributing meat to 11,500 families in South Lebanon during Eid al Adha
- Increasing access to food among vulnerable residents of Saida by distributing approximately 100 hot meals per day through ISWA’s community kitchen, Al Kheir Restaurant
- Promoting a sense of community and providing food for the fasting by inviting 22,900 orphans and their caregivers to community iftars during Ramadan.