Fresh Food for Families in Rafah

Josie Shields-Stromsness, Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA)

The Madison-Rafah Sister City Project is joining with MECA, ZamZam Water, PaliRoots, and the Union of Agricultural Work Committees to provide food parcels to families in Rafah. As always, MECA strives to support the local economy while providing much needed aid for families. With these food parcels many Palestinian farmers and cooperatives benefit, and the end result is a healthy and local package of eggs, vegetables, beans, lentils, rice, cheese, za’atar and more.

The economic situation in the Gaza Strip is deteriorating dramatically as a result of the continuation of the Israeli occupation and the Israeli blockade. The precautions taken to limit the spread of coronavirus including imposing of lockdowns and curfews have worsened the dire situation. As a result, more than 70% of the population are reported below the poverty line.

The project aims to provide support for some of the poorest families in the Gaza strip through provision of fresh food items as well as protect the livelihoods of small farmers and women by helping generate income to support their families.

Each family will receive a food parcel with essentials like rice, beans, and lentils as well as fresh local produce and poultry. An estimated 20 small farmers and cooperative members will benefit from providing the produce and locally made packaged goods such as jam and maftool.

The project will be overseen by an agricultural engineer and a nutritionist to ensure the parcels are well balanced and good quality. MECA staff and local partners will work to identify families in Rafah area to receive the food parcels.

Selection criteria include

  • The beneficiary should not be an employee
  • The beneficiary should be the breadwinner of a family of not less than 4 members
  • Priority is given to poor families that have disabled individuals or those with chronic diseases
  • Priority is given to female-headed households

Sample contents of the food parcel, subject to change based on the season and feedback from the recipients during the current distribution to 1400 families:

    2 cans of tomato paste (each one 400 g)
    5 cans of fava beans (each one 500g)
    3 liters of cooking oil
    1 jar of jam
    0.5 kg yellow processed cheese
    1 bottle of tahini (400 g)
    1 kg of lentils
    3 kg rice
    1 kg white beans
    1 chicken
    2 kg maftool
    2 kg pressed dates
    3 kg tomatoes
    3 kg onions
    3 kg potatoes
    1 kg cucumber
    0.5 kg garlic
    2 kg eggplant

The estimated cost of each food parcel is $40 and the food parcels will last each family 2-3 weeks depending on family size. The contents are meant to complement what UNRWA provides to refugees in Gaza in order to provide these families with a more balanced diet though recipients of these parcels will not be exclusively refugees.