Relief Work

Letter of Gratitude

Ever since the catastrophic explosion transformed Beirut forever and sent shock waves around the world on August 4th, FHF and ESDU have been hard at work in the Akleh community kitchen in Beirut and the kitchen of Khayrat Bekaana Coop in El Khiara – West Bekaa to provide hot meals to the victims of the blast through our “Cooking For Beirut” emergency relief effort under the Ardi Ardak initiative.

Our work would not have been possible without the kindness and generosity of our partners, donors, chefs and dedicated volunteers who have supported and sustained our efforts during these tiring times. Over the last three weeks with the help of 39 volunteers and 26 ESDU and FHF team member volunteers, we cooked and delivered 3,002 hot meals, and received 17,819,420 LBP along with numerous in-kind donations which included vegetables and other cooking ingredients from The Green Van, Mada Association and many other generous individuals.

While our team was handling cooking and packaging in the kitchens, distribution was done in collaboration with different partners including the Lebanese Food Bank and the Center for Civic Engagement in AUB.

Due to the nationwide COVID-19 lockdown and to ensure the safety of our team and volunteers, we will be transitioning into a new phase of our relief work. After discussions with the partners who are working on the ground directly with the affected families, we have decided to put the production of hot meals on hold and provide mouneh parcels instead to displaced citizens who are able to cook in their kitchens or in temporary shelters.

Committed to contributing to the revival of the local economy and maintaining food security, we will ensure the donations we receive are used to procure the content of the mouneh parcels from small local farmers and producers, local SMEs and coops in rural areas.

Although “thank you” doesn’t encapsulate the extent of our gratitude, we would like to acknowledge and express our appreciation to the following beautiful souls that have helped us stay cooking and aid those in need during this crisis:

Food Heritatge Foundation, Environment and Sustainable Development Unit in AUB, Lebanese League for Women in Business , Lebanese Food Bank, Khayrat Bekaana Coop, Zico House, Le Passport Culinaire, Akleh Community Kitchen

ESDU Volunteers
Afif Wehbe, Angy Keirouz, Camille Cesbron, Cynthia Kreidy, Danny Mansour, Gaelle Abboud, Ghida El Dirany, Haidar Sleiman, Hind Naim, Ingrid Abou Zeid, Juliette Amidi, Lamisse Khairallah, Lea Salameh, Mabelle Chedid, Marwa Soubra, Mohamed Dbeibo, Nadim Rawda, Nicolas Gholam, Patricia Kebbe, Petra Chedid, Rebecca Khoury, Sarah Karam, Yara Sleiman, Yasmina Olabi, Zuhair and Camilla Zeineddine

Community Volunteers
Chef Fares Naddaf, Chef Hassan Hamoud, Chef Jean Richa, Chef Joseph Khoury, Chef Khaled Succarieh, Chef Nawal Aoun, Chef Wael Harrouz

Afaf Rachkidi, Ahmad Al Khalidi, Alexandra Mikhael, Arsha Mazloum, Christelle Mattar, Corinne Eid, Dima Ghaddar, Hussein Al Khalidi, Jessica Bou Tanious, Joey Ragheb, Joumana El Khechen, Karim El Husseini, Layal Sasso, Mariane Abu Jawde, Marie-Lynn Issa, Marielou Kreidy, Marwa El Kechen, Maurice Riachy, Maya Sabbah, Michelle Daou, Mira El Hassan, Mirna Hobeika, Mona Tarboush, Nadim Hamade, Najla Haidar, Nesmat Hammoud, Nour El Hassan, Reem Fawaz, Reine Habchy, Rihab Younis, Rima Kahwaji, Roy Lteif, Sandra Abboud Daher, Sawsan Kassem, Stephanie Gabriel, Yara Hamad, Yara Hammoud, Yasmine El Hajj, Youmna Iskandarani, Zahi Turk, Zeinab Abbas

With love and gratitude,
FHF and ESDU team

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Eduardo Lima, photojournalist, visiting the foundation’s projects in West Bekaa

Eduardo Lima, photojournalist from Brazil, is documenting the different aspects of the daily life in Lebanon being affected by the Syrian crisis. Lima has been roaming around the country taking pictures of Lebanese and Syrian communities dealing with the impact of the Syrian war. Last week, he went on a journey with members of the Food Heritage Foundation to the West Bekaa, visited the community kitchen in Khiara and had lunch on darb el karam – food heritage trail.

Lebanese and Syrian ladies cooking together in Khiara’s community kitchen

In Khiara’s kitchen, Lima photographed the ladies while they were cooking “moujaddara” for lunch. He chatted with them, asked them how working in the community kitchen impacted their lives, and then he accompanied the field officer for pots distribution to the different families enrolled in the program.

The ladies gathered around Lima, checking the pictures he took of them
The ladies gathered around Lima, checking the pictures he took of them

[quote]I am really glad I am including the pictures of the community kitchen in my project. I think the work you are doing, providing jobs and help is important for various things including recovering the self-esteem of those affected one way or the other by what is going on in Syria[/quote]

The van is almost full and ready to start the distribution!
The van is almost full and ready to start the distribution!

After visiting some families, Lima and FHF team headed to darb el karam where they visited the olive mill in Aytanit. Lima was impressed by the work at the mill while Shakar, owner of the press explained the different steps of extracting oil.

At the olive press
At the olive press

[quote]The food and generosity remind me of the family gatherings I used to have at my grandmother’s house in Brazil[/quote] said Lima while having lunch in Lina’s table d’hôte in Kherbet Kanafar.

Lina's mutabbal
Lina’s mutabbal

Lina, with the help of her husband, has set the table and prepared traditional recipes from the fall menu: fattoush, mutabbal batenjen, kebbe b joz (walnut kebbe) and vegetable stew with rice. After lunch, the group savored pumpkin zlebye with a cup of tea and seasonal fruits before going back to Beirut and escaping the storm.

A cup of tea, fruits from the garden and pumpkin zlebye for dessert
A cup of tea, fruits from the garden and pumpkin zlebye for dessert


More than 1000 Lebanese and Syrian families reached through our rural community kitchens

LEB 15_Community Kitchen_ Minyara_Tel Abbas Camp (8)


The Food Heritage Foundation (FHF) in collaboration with the Environment and Sustainable Development Unit (ESDU) and the International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC), has been supporting community kitchens in Minyara, Akkar and El Khiara, West Bekaa since 2013 and 2014 respectively, with the ultimate goal to develop these hosting areas and feed vulnerable families. The idea of bringing women from the host and refugee communities together to produce healthy meals traditional to both cultures and distribute them to vulnerable families, came about in the early stages of the Syrian crisis, when Lebanon started observing large influx of refugees.

Bread distribution in Khiara, West Bekaa ©Tiziana Cauli IOCC
Bread distribution in Khiara, West Bekaa ©Tiziana Cauli IOCC

Currently, groups of Lebanese and Syrian ladies are leading the kitchens in Minyara and El Khiara and feeding up to 120 families a day. Besides the food assistance provided, the women are trained and encouraged to develop lines of products for sales such as jams, pickles, tomato paste, chocolates etc. This further empowers the ladies and increases their source of income.

Tal Abbas settlement
Dominique Anid, FHF Health and Nutrition Specialist, with children of Tal Abbas camp in Akkar ©Tiziana Cauli IOCC

In 2014, around 3,500 individuals benefited from the distribution of hot meals and bread parcels prepared by the community kitchens. Since January 2015, 2,000 individuals are receiving food in Akkar and West Bekaa. These distributions have been supported by the German organization “Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe (DKH)”. All the recipes were chosen by the ladies themselves to insure cultural acceptability among beneficiary families and were supervised by FHF dietitians to increase their nutritional benefits.

Khiara Community Kitchen
Khiara Community Kitchen ©Tiziana Cauli IOCC

Testimonies from the ladies leading the community kitchens and the beneficiary families clearly show the benefits of such initiatives:

“Establishing this kitchen was brilliant, it supports and empowers the women working in it and it also supports the small shops and farmers in the area who are providing the vegetables, grains, meat…” (Najla, Kitchen Coordinator, El Khiara Community Kitchen)

Pots distribution in Akkar
Pots distribution  ©Tiziana Cauli IOCC

The bread you’re distributing is of very good quality, the food reaching us is very reliable, and what is nice about it is that it is not too salty, those who want to add salt can do so; the quality of food is obviously controlled. Honestly, your project is helping families save a lot; most families were deprived from a hot meal or a bundle of bread at home.” (Ibrahim, Syrian, father of 5 children, Halba, Akkar)

Miniara community kitchen team ©Tiziana Cauli IOCC


Khiara community kitchen feeding vulnerable populations in West Bekaa


In September 2014, the Food Heritage Foundation (FHF) in collaboration with the International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) got in touch with the “Khayrat Bekaena” women’s cooperative (COOP) in Khiara, West Bekaa.


It is with great pleasure that FHF & IOCC decided to further support this women’s COOP who had been producing mouneh products for almost a year. In this line, a specialized cooking unit was added to their COOP for hot meals preparations and eventual catering activities. The Khayrat Bekaena‘s team of Lebanese and Syrian ladies took part in training workshops on food safety, standardized recipes, and managerial and entrepreneurial skills. Since March 2015, the ladies have been working jointly to produce hot meals distributed to 100 vulnerable Syrian and Lebanese families in Khiara and Rawda villages.


This model helps address the immediate needs of the most vulnerable refugee and local families by providing them with pots of cooked food that can alleviate their food insecurity and increase their dietary diversity. It also creates an additional production line for the ladies hence providing them with an additional source of income.



FHF supports Syrian Refugees and their host community in Miniara, Akkar


The Food Heritage Foundation, in affiliation to the Environment and Sustainable Development Unit at AUB, is supporting a community kitchen in Minyara, Akkar in partnership with the International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC). The project initiated in May 2013 and is ongoing.

The idea behind this project is to link emergency food assistance to the development of host communities. In fact, a pre-existing community kitchen in Minyara was upgraded and women were mobilized and trained to cater healthy traditional food pots to vulnerable refugee families.

Women cooks are both locals, from the host community of Minyara, and Syrians, from the surrounding refugee communities.


This project offers an income-generating activity to women, while helping to enhance social rehabilitation among host and refugee women. At the same time, the distribution of food pots helped alleviate food insecurity and increase dietary diversity among vulnerable refugee families. The project also contributes to boosting the local economy as raw ingredients are purchased on site.

In January 2014, this outreach has targeted 240 refugee families in Halba and Kousha – Akkar. These families are receiving food pots 3 times per week. Priority is given to families with pregnant / lactating women, elderly and children under 5 years of age.


FHF launches its traditional healthy kitchen

Kitchen Launching

It is in a great ambiance that the FHF launched its Traditional Healthy Kitchen in Beirut “Akleh” on Friday May 2, 2014. The establishment and launching of “Akleh” is supported by USAID in the framework of NABAD project for social entrepreneurship.


Academics, researchers, food lovers, friends and supporters all gathered to celebrate this event, to visit the kitchen and taste some of the specialties to be served by our kitchen.

Established in a 70 years old building (Zico House), “Akleh” will seek to revive our Lebanese food heritage by empowering the key holders of our culinary traditions: women from various Lebanese areas as well as small farmers and producers. The food – although traditional- will be customized according to healthy standards and served in a delicate way.

Akleh opening

Who said that old food couldn’t have a new mood?