Food News

Could you survive on the same rations as a Syrian refugee?

Next week, that’s what thousands of Australians will attempt to do as they raise money for a charity working with Syrians in refugee camps.

By Emma Breheny
A ration pack distributed to Syrian refugees, the same pack that participants in Act for Peace's Ration Challenge will be expected to survive on for a week.
The ration pack

If this cardboard box of groceries reminds you of what lingers in the far corners of your pantry, take a moment to think of the people who must abide by this diet week in, week out. This is the ration pack distributed to Syrians in refugee camps in Jordan. Its contents include less than two cups of white rice, a can of fish, some lentils and chickpeas, a can of kidney beans and some oil to cook with.

During Refugee Week next week, thousands of Australians will live off that very same ration pack as part of the Act for Peace Ration Challenge, a fundraiser that also raises awareness of the conditions in refugee camps around the world. Those who sign up and receive donations will support organisations who work with some of the 11 million people displaced by the Syrian Civil War, now in its seventh year.

Last year, the challenge raised $3 million, which went towards ration packs (the same ones that challenge participants will receive), medicine, toiletries, education and counselling for refugees. Money raised also supports Act for Peace's efforts in other parts of the Middle East, Africa and Asia. Act for Peace is the charity arm of the National Council of Churches in Australia.

People taking part in the Ration Challenge must also forego coffee, tea and alcohol for the week. The good news is you can earn extra ingredients – some spices to add to your white rice perhaps – once you reach certain fundraising thresholds. The price of a couple of tea bags is $1,000. If you don't manage to raise quite that much, the only liquid that will pass your lips for the week will be water. Those who slip up by eating outside the ration allowance can pay a penalty.

There's still time to sign up your family, housemates, school or workplace. Why not take stock of your own good fortune as you push your culinary skills to the limit?

Act for Peace Ration Challenge, 17-24 June 2018, actforpeace.rationchallenge.org.au