In conjunction with Eshel Jerusalem and Leket Israel, Social Affairs and Social Services Minister Haim Katz is leading a national food security initiative to benefit 10,800 needy families across Israel. In order to carry this out, dedicated credit cards will be distributed to all families: these cards are filled each month, with 250 shekel for the purchase of food products at approved supermarkets (excluding tobacco and alcohol), and 250 shekel for rescued produce, and dried goods brought directly to the homes of those in need.

With an allocated annual budget of 60 million shekel, the Ministry has assigned Eshel Jerusalem, the food distribution arm of Colel Chabad, Israel’s longest running social services organization since 1788, to coordinate the initiative and manage the logistical operation necessary for delivery of food and resources to beneficiaries. The fresh fruits and vegetables will be provided by Leket Israel.

In the pilot year of this national effort, 36 municipalities nationwide have already joined as partners who will assist in identifying families and managing local distribution. These municipalities include: Ofakim, Al-B’Tuf, Elad, Ariel, Baka Al-Garbia, Be’er Sheva, Beitar Ilit, Jisr Az-Zarqa, Dimona, Gilboa Regional Council, Chatzor HaGlitlit, Yavne, Yerucham, Jerusalem, Kfar Manda, Kfar Kassem, Karmiel, Lachish Regional Council, Lakiya, Migdal HaEmek, Modiin Ilit, Ma’alot-Tarshicha, Nahariya, Neve Midbar Regional Council, Netivot, Emanuel, Asafiya, Afula, Safed, Kiryat Yam, Kiryat Malachi, Rahat, Rechesiya, Sderot and Tel Sheva.

The aim of this initiative is to create a new infrastructure to provide constant support and lasting food security for families in need. This is in an effort to move away from previous models that only provided minimal financial relief/food baskets for families during holiday seasons. As part of this pilot, we will explore additional ways to provide food security. Food Security is a welfare approach designed to provide recipients with both the resources and education to avoid hunger – and escape the downward spiral of poverty.

“In 2016, we allocated 225 million shekel worth of food for schools, employment centers for the disabled and senior citizen centers in addition to the 55 million in food packages. We are now embarking on an initiative whose purpose is to provide needy families with food security throughout the year in a respectful way,” reported Welfare Minister Haim Katz. “This is a multiregional initiative that includes all segments of society – including the North, South and Center, designated for the Ultra-Orthodox, Secular, Jews and Arabs. I hope that these activities are successful and hope to expand the program to more families across the country.”

“I praise Minister Katz’s courage in recognizing the problem of food insecurity and taking the necessary actions to solve it,” said Gidi Kroch, CEO of Leket Israel. “For years Leket Israel has worked to raise awareness about the economic, social and environmental benefits of food rescue. This culminated in the annual publication and presentation of our Food Waste and Rescue in Israel Report to the Israeli Knesset. Minister Katz’s taking action is not only a courage of social responsibility but also of economic responsibility. With the support of the Welfare Ministry, in partnership with Colel Chabad, Leket Israel will be providing the weakest population in Israel with fresh rescued produce. These fruits and vegetables will be a steady source of nutrition for those who do not currently have access to it themselves. Leket Israel is pleased to play an integral role in this crucial initial step of governmental support for food rescue to benefit Israel’s poor.”

Mendy Blau, Chairman and Israel Director of Colel Chabad comments “As the oldest continuously run organization in the country providing food and support for those in need, we are honored to have been chosen to embark on this major first step in revolutionizing food security across Israel. This is the first time that such a large scale program has been initiated by the Welfare Ministry, working to help those suffering from food insecurity in a meaningful and respectful way. On behalf of the 10,800 families benefitting from this initiative, I thank the minister for his sincerity and for bringing this important project to the forefront of public concern. Our ultimate goal is not just about giving handouts but inspiring these families to change their habits to become more self-sufficient and escape poverty.”

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