American Univesity of Beirut

Healthy Kitchens, Healthy Children: A school-based cluster randomized controlled trial

​​Project Description

Food insecurity threatens dietary diversity, nutritional status and physical, mental and social health of vulnerable populations. Palestinian refugees in Lebanon are protracted refugees with fragile livelihoods, high rates of poverty and food insecurity.  

Studies have shown that food insecurity in this po​​pulation is associated with low household income, is more common in households with female heads and results in poor quality diets, particularly a reduction in fresh food consumption. In this population, only 13% of women are employed, however the enrollment rate of 7-12 year old children in school reaches 95%. 

The aim of this applied research is to evaluate the impact of a community partnership on some of the root causes of food insecurity in Palestinian refugees, such as employment and income-generating potential of women, educational attainment, access to food-related assets and mental health.

The study consists of a two-pronged approach:

1) the establishment of community kitchens as small business enterprises where women are trained in food preparation, food safety and business entrepreneurship; 2) the development of a school feeding program for children aged 5 to 12 years catered by the trained women from the community kitchens.​​

Working with UN Relief and W​orks Agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA)’s  social services program we will recruit already existing community-based women’s organizations to participate in the study and UNRWA elementary schools. The school feeding program will be designed as a school-based cluster randomized controlled trial (RCT) with a matched pair design, and 8-month follow-up of children aged 5-12 years. Schools will be randomly assigned to 2 groups: intervention including school meal plus nutrition and health education or control including nutrition and health education only. Process, formative and outcome evaluation will be conducted.

Research Timeline




Hala Ghattas (PI), Associate Research Professor and Interim Director, CRPH
Nadine Sahyoun

Research Team

Zeina Jamaluddine​


Nestlé Foundation for the Study of Problems of Nutrition in the World

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