As I sat there at the end of the table, I could not understand the enthusiastic conversation in Arabic. I was sitting in the Global Ties KC conference room, surrounded by Palestinian leaders in Agriculture. The two currently conversing in increasingly excited conversation were from the Palestinian Ministry of Health and the Ministry of the National Economy.
We had just heard a presentation from the Food Equality Initiative about their work in delivering nutritious food to people suffering from food allergies and diseases such as Diabetes. The really ingenious solution of working through insurance companies to give people access to credits they could use to purchase allergen-free food from an online market place had obviously struck a chord with the group. Just as the conversation reached its highest volume, I heard the interpreter shout out, “Now you’re working together!”
Apparently, the conversation centered around the Ministry of Health creating a similar program and the Ministry of the Economy pushing factories to produce special allergen-free food for sale on the new website. All of the current allergen-free foods in Palestine are imported from abroad, resulting in them being very expensive and typically cost-prohibitive to the individuals that need it. However, what they discussed is that Palestinian factories could produce it for cheaper, still make money, and pass some of the savings onto the consumer. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health could run a new program offering direct-to-door delivery for these allergen-free foods for those that qualify for assistance. Helping those that need the food and providing a much broader market to the factories, incentivizing them to make the switch.
It was a welcome reminder that cross-cultural exchange creates real opportunities for improvement. The idea that the Food Equality Initiative champions in the United States will hopefully soon make its way to Palestine, and improve the health of its population.
While this is the best example of the impact of the Palestinians time in Kansas City, from November 12-16, there are many more I could deliver. Here on an IVLP Program entitled “Agricultural Health and Safety Regulations,” this group met with a wide variety of organizations across the city. I would like to say thank you to every one of those organizations:
- University of Missouri Extension
- Harvest Public Media
- Shatto Milk Company
- Green Acres Urban Farm and Research Project
- Food Equality Initiative
- Harvesters Food Bank
I know my perspective of Palestine has changed quickly in my time with the group, and the next time I think of Palestine, I will think of the contagious laughter and enthusiastic conversations that this group brought to Kansas City.