A Challenging Response in the Middle East
In Gaza, Israel, and surrounding countries, World Central Kitchen (WCK) is working with partners to serve meals to families impacted by the extreme escalation of violence and ensuing humanitarian crisis.
WCK teams on the ground have established a network of partners that are providing thousands of meals daily to impacted families in Gaza, Israel, Egypt, and Lebanon. Working alongside these NGOs, restaurants, and catering partners, they have been able to scale up their operations quickly. Since their work began on the ground at the beginning of October, WCK partners in Israel have served over 621,000 meals, and partners in Gaza provided more than 3.3 million meals—both in the form of cooked meals, as well as kits of produce and dry goods that can sustain a family for several days.
WCK is working with Anera— their longtime partner on the ground—who has tapped into their network across the territory to locally source supplies to cook hot meals and assemble food kits. The team has been working nonstop to access and distribute food and water resources that were within the borders before the total blockade of Gaza began. “The situation is growing even more dire,” said Sandra Rasheed, Anera’s country director in Palestine. “However, our team on the ground is working tirelessly to provide essential aid.”
In total, including hot meals, food kits with several days' worth of meals, and produce kits with fruits and vegetables, Anera has distributed more than 3.3 million meals to Palestinians and anyone else in need.
In Israel, WCK’s team is working with a robust network of local restaurant and catering partners to support thousands of people who need food and water assistance. While some Israeli families living near the border with Gaza were mandatorily evacuated and are receiving government assistance, many more families have evacuated voluntarily and are not eligible for the same support. WCK is focused on serving this population of evacuees, as well as people who are working in or staying in healthcare facilities. Through these partnerships, they have served more than 621,000 meals in the country, and are meeting some of the locals who are stepping up to serve the displaced people staying in their communities.
Fifty miles to the south, WCK’s partner, Yoav, is also cooking meals for displaced people who have recently arrived in his community. "First, it's about people finding their way after leaving home,” he said. “Then, there's the bright side—a mission to bring smiles after all the tough things they have been through.” He took WCK staff on a tour through his kitchen, letting them sample what’s on the stove and in the oven. Of sharing food, Yoav said, “It's about creating little moments of happiness during chaos…it's a tale of the incredible power of simple kindness.”
EGYPT AND LEBANON
In Cairo, Egypt, WCK has turned a hotel conference room into their regional headquarters. They are working on connecting with local organizations, organizing supply chain logistics, and procuring resources. Like many other humanitarian organizations, WCK is awaiting permission to enter Gaza with aid that is so desperately needed. At the same time, they are providing meals to humanitarian workers who are on standby at the border.
The situation continues to intensify, and now is impacting communities along the IsraelLebanon border, where recent attacks have forced evacuations in both countries. It is difficult to tell what the coming days and weeks will bring, but WCK’s teams and partners are forging ahead. WCK is committed to feeding people, wherever they may be.
Toronto Star Newspapers Limited