Syria: Collective kitchens provide food for impoverished and vulnerable people

The continuous fighting and constant insecurity in Syria have affected all aspects of daily life, with millions of displaced and vulnerable people across the country depending on aid deliveries, and the basics of life – clean water, food and health care – nothing but a distant dream.

Since the beginning of the conflict in Syria, the ICRC, in partnership with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC), have been distributing food parcels to millions of people in need. Many of those who receive the relief aid find it hard to prepare cooked meals for want of fuel and other lack of money.

Thus, in 2014, the ICRC, through SARC, started to assist local charities to run collective kitchens that provide daily cooked meals to impoverished and vulnerable people.

Today, the ICRC supports around 17 collective kitchens in Aleppo, Homs, Lattakia, Rural Damascus and Damascus, providing daily meals to more than 250,000 people.

In Homs, the ICRC, working closely with SARC, supports six collective kitchens by providing bulk food and fuel for cooking. In addition, the ICRC has rehabilitated these kitchens and provided fridges, generators and other necessary equipment.

The collective kitchen in Al-Hamra, Homs city, started to function one year ago by providing meals for 1,000 people. Today, this kitchen now provides daily meals to around 2,000 people. It is run by six dedicated women who work tirelessly seven days a week from 08:00 to 18:00. It takes them around three hours to prepare the ingredients, wash and chop the vegetables.

At 12:00 they start cooking on just two ovens, and by 14:00 the meals are ready to be distributed, either to beneficiaries who come to the kitchen itself or to different points close to where the communities in need live. In both cases text messages are sent to various focal people who pass on the information.