School children buy nutritious snacks at canteen
At 10 a.m. every morning, 300 children burst through the doors of the Jerusalem school Madraseh al-Quds and run towards the outdoor playground. Before the children begin to play, they race to the canteen to buy a morning snack. Because of the Near East Foundation’s (NEF) work with local women’s associations, the school is able to provide its students with fresh and nutritious snacks every day—while also supporting the livelihoods of participating women.
The savory Palestinian treats produced by the women’s associations supported by NEF are filled with local cheese and spices. Members of these women’s associations have learned new skills in NEF trainings – including accounting and business management – and have participated in horticulture projects. Combined, these activities have led to the creation of more than 168 jobs for women.
The Balata Women’s Society, located in the Balata refugee camp, is one of the women’s associations that has benefited from NEF training and whose members sell baked goods in the school canteen. The canteen’s shelves were once filled with candy, juice boxes and potato chips--representative of the malnutrition problem faced by more than 20% of the Palestinian youth. Now, the canteen provides healthy alternative snacks to the children, many of whom come to school with an empty stomach.
On an average school day, the Balata Women’s Society makes about $80 by selling snacks in the canteen. The profits are distributed among the women who work there. In 2012, there were a total of 57 school canteens set up by women’s associations supported by NEF, which collectively have generated $130,000 in revenue. The women are excited to continue providing children with nutritious alternatives, while at the same time continuing to invest in their self-created businesses and supporting women members of their associations.
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Women's canteen at Madraseh al-Quds School
A child enjoys a nutritious snack at school