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Can we be friends?

How Lebanese summer camps are nourishing future generations
Eleven-year-olds Eliane and Nazaa have been going to the same Beirut school for year. But they only met this year when school closed for summer.
Eliane is Lebanese and Nazaa is Syrian. As they attend a double-shift school, their paths only cross when Eliane leaves at midday and Nazaa enters through the gates to attend the second shift.

They attend one of 39 schools participating in the World Food Programme’s (WFP) school snack programme run in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and Higher Education (MEHE) and implemented by International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC). During term time, they receive a daily snack pack that includes locally-made nutritious treats and attend regular nutrition classes. During summer, one thousand of them have the chance to attend one of six nutrition camps across the country.

Italy’s Development Cooperation is funding both the school meals programme and nutrition camps.

The camps have evolved since their inception last year when they included games, drama, dance and craft activities, all peppered with nutritional messages. Now they also include sessions on better life skills as well as psycho-social activities, developed by MEHE’s health team.

There are plenty more stories like Eliane and Nazaa’s.

Salha and Elham just met here too and are planning to hang out together all summer. They enjoy the craft sessions the most, and apparently learnt a lot in just the first few days.

Did you know there are up to ten spoons of sugar in a can of soda?” Salha asked me.

“Junk food usually tastes great, but those chips aren’t great for your body. We should be eating more vegetables and drinking more water,” she continues excitedly.

Achieving #ZeroHunger by 2030 is a WFP’s current main priority. Programmes like this address a key challenge to Lebanese and refugee populations alike; that is food security and nutrition. with donors in Lebanon including Italy, whose Development Cooperation is funding the school meals programme and nutrition camps.

Lebanese and refugee populations alike face challenges with food and nutrition insecurity; a key facet in the construction of the nutrition summer camps.

A 2016 study, found that 49 percent of Lebanese people were worried about their ability to access enough food and 31 percent were unable to eat sufficient healthy and nutritious foods over the course of a year. Changes in dietary preferences have led to new challenges, including micronutrient deficiencies and rising obesity.

The conception of the summer camps was directly drawn out of such research. Games, drawing, dancing and crafts are a fun way to encourage the children of today to take good nutrition forward into a healthy future.

Read more about WFP’s work in Lebanon .