Local initiatives in Jordan working to combat hunger

The concern of hunger and unemployment in Jordan has encouraged organizations to launch various initiatives to combat these issues

Leen Hajjar
Leen Hajjar - Special to Al Arabiya English
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An expected rise in food prices along with Jordan’s 13.6 percent unemployment rate is an ongoing concern for many Jordanians. While numerous citizens across the Kingdom are struggling to secure the necessary resources for daily life, many organizations in the capital Amman are working tirelessly to combat hunger and help underprivileged families.

Food prices in 2016 are expected to rise by 20 percent, according to Raed Hamadah, representative of the food sector at the Jordan Chamber of Commerce. Hamadah attributed this increase to the 15 percent rise in electricity tariffs, which went into effect at the beginning of the year. Hamadah said that the increase in power tariffs will affect both imported and locally produced food products, and “consumers will ultimately pay the price,” according to the Jordan Times.

During the fourth quarter of 2015, the unemployment rate in Jordan stood at 13.6 percent, according to Department of Statistics (DoS) figures, which were announced last February. The jobless rate among men stood at 11.7 percent, and 23 percent among women, the Jordan Times reported.

The concern of hunger and unemployment in Jordan has encouraged organizations to launch various initiatives to combat these issues. The 2010-founded Jordanian Food Bank (JFB) is a nonprofit organization specialized in fighting hunger through innovation and diversity by creating effective programs addressing hunger problems in the Kingdom. The organization strives to eliminate hunger, help those unable to work, solve poverty-related issues, and help the less fortunate become active members of society. The group’s ultimate goal is to end hunger in Jordan by 2020.

The Food Bank includes numerous projects such as the “Awareness for Hotels and Restaurants” campaign, which collects excess, untouched food from Jordanian hotels, events, buffets, and restaurants by packing it in foil trays and distributing it to families in need. The “Feeding Program” campaign also targets individuals who wish to donate money and purchase a monthly food package for an individual or a family.

According to the Jordan Times, last December, the Jordanian Food Bank signed an agreement with the Jordanian Austrian Company to provide food items to the underprivileged. The aim of the agreement is to continue combating hunger and assist underprivileged families in local communities. Under the agreement, the Jordanian Austrian Company will provide 25 underprivileged families with food packages every month and half a ton of rice in support of various JFB programs.

“Family Kitchen,” is a similar organization that launched during the holy month of Ramadan in 2009 by Jordanian volunteers. It began with collecting uneaten food from fine restaurants and distributing around 3,000 meals to the poor. It quickly expanded into a larger movement that packages and redistributes excess foods from top hotels, fine restaurants and bakeries as high quality meals to less fortunate families. The project targets families in underprivileged neighborhoods with a focus on children. They work in collaboration with local charitable societies and centers, and beneficiaries are selected without religious or ethnic background discrimination, Jordan’s official Petra news agency reported.

The Greater Amman Municipality has also worked towards fighting hunger through the Food Bank initiative, “Kulluna Ahl.” The campaign encourages shoppers at local supermarkets to purchase some food items, each according to their financial needs, and place them into a box. The food materials are then collected, sorted, packed, and eventually delivered to less fortunate families in Amman.

Food Box outside of Carrefour Supermarket in Amman. (Leen Hajjar/ Al Arabiya English)
Food Box outside of Carrefour Supermarket in Amman. (Leen Hajjar/ Al Arabiya English)

Izwati, a local sandwich café in Amman’s Jabal al-Weibdeh district is striving to help the poor by offering free sandwiches. With its affordable prices, customers are encouraged to buy an additional sandwich for someone in need when they purchase one for themselves. Customers are also given the opportunity to write a sweet note to attach with the meal. Underprivileged people are welcomed on all days to pass by and pick up a sandwich.

Despite the expected rise in food prices and Jordan’s high unemployment rate, the determination of these organizations and compassion of local residents is combating hunger and supporting Jordanian communities. With their tremendous efforts and extensive projects, they are committed to developing sustainable solutions to end hunger in Jordan and improve the lives of those in need.

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