Christian Friends of Leket Israel

2024: Successsfully Feeding Israelis in Crisis

Food Purchase

In response to the increase of 22% and rising demand for Leket’s services, coupled with the decrease in the availability of surplus food for rescue from both the agricultural and catering sectors; Leket continues to purchase food for redistribution to populations at high risk in 2024. Meal rescue has steadily been recovering as IDF bases have reopened for rescue and corporate cafeterias are producing more food as people return to work, however; surplus produce for rescue has not recovered as the long-term damage to the agricultural sector continues to affect future output.

Since Jan 1, 2024:

  • Leket has purchased 8.8 million lbs. (4,000 metric tons) of 30 types of fruit and vegetables and rescued 8.8 million lbs. (4,000 metric tons).
  • Currently produce purchase makes up 50% of distribution, costing Leket 4-5 times more than the cost to rescue.
  • Leket has purchased 100,000 meals and rescued 502,000.
  • Currently meal purchase makes up 19% of total distribution.

Volunteer Assistance to Israeli Farmers

The ongoing war has resulted in a 40% loss of agricultural workers, who Israeli farmers were reliant on for harvesting, pruning, and maintenance of crops/orchards. To provide immediate assistance to farmers who require urgent support, Leket has continued to send dedicated volunteers to farms throughout Israel. Since January 1, 2024, the organization has sent out 16,000 volunteers, on 500 buses to assist Israeli farmers.

Produce for Evacuees

Leket provides produce stands for evacuees living in hotels to provide free-of-charge access to fresh fruit and vegetables. Currently, Leket provides produce to 8 hotels in Israel, serving approximately 3,000 evacuees. To date, Leket has provided, 195,000 lbs. of produce to evacuees in hotels; the equivalent of providing each evacuee with 5.5 lbs. of fresh produce per week to date.

Tour Guides

In the wake of a complete halt in tourism in Israel, tour guides find themselves hugely challenged to find employment. To assist, Leket is employing tour guides to accompany volunteers and act as a point of contact for the group, liaise with farmers, and ensure the needs of volunteers are met. Currently, 50 tour guides are employed for the project with between 5-9 buses leaving every day. Each week 1,500 volunteers are accompanied by tour guides to farms throughout Israel.

Financial Assistance to Farmers Impacted by the War

The horrifying attacks on southern Israel devastated an area of land responsible for producing 75% of the produce consumed in Israel. Many farmers’ land, equipment, infrastructure, and crops were destroyed, with the majority evacuated from their communities. Yet fixed costs continued, creating a heavy burden, which if not addressed will make it difficult for this group to return to farming activity. Israeli northern border orchardists are now facing similar challenges. Plans to address this from both the Israeli Government and civil society organizations do not adequately meet the needs of most farmers.

Since Leket’s founding in 2003, the organization has worked extensively with the farming community, building long-term relationships with Israeli growers to rescue an annual average of 60 million lbs. of surplus produce, making the sector the largest donor of excess food in Israel. Until October 2023, this surplus was providing the nation’s most vulnerable citizens with free-of-charge access to healthy produce they would not otherwise consume. It is critical to now protect Israeli farmers’ livelihoods while ensuring the country’s future food security.

Loans to Assist Farmers Impacted by the War

With support from significant donors, Leket, in collaboration with Koret Israel Economic Development Fund (KIEDF), has established a loan fund to support devastated Israeli farmers. Leket and KIEDF’s joint initiative focuses on providing critical loans to Israeli farmers whose annual turnover is less than $2,770,000. The funds will aid farmers in restoring their equipment and land, offering loans with more favorable conditions than those available on the market. Loans will initially focus on southern farms and will later expand to include other areas.

To date, 4 loans have already been approved and 4 applications are pending. Leket has already contributed $838,000 to the fund and is currently seeking further donor support for the project. The aim is to provide 100 loans totaling $2,770,000.

Grants to Assist Farmers Impacted by the War

With the backing of dedicated donors, Leket has established a grant fund in collaboration with Strauss of $3,900,000 for farmers in the Gaza envelope, those that were amongst the most devastated by the initial attacks. The grants will offer a holistic solution to meet farmers’ most pressing needs, including restoration of damaged infrastructure, rehabilitation of fields, and hiring labor; enabling growers to develop a long-term plan to rebuild and return to their farms.

Support for Returning Southern Communities

Utilizing its robust logistics network and working in collaboration with local nonprofit partners and municipalities, Leket will work with returning communities to address their unique needs. This may include issuing loaded credit cards, supplying fresh produce, or delivering essential supplies to alleviate local shortages. Tailored support will be provided based on the specific requirements of each community, with the organization aiming to offer NIS 1,000 ($270) worth of assistance to every returning family. Of the 54 communities within a 7 km radius of the Gaza border; 28,000 have yet to return and are planning to in the coming months. Leket will liaise with local welfare offices to identify returning residents’ and community needs, facilitating efficient support distribution.

Cultivating Israel’s Fertile Land - Establishing Leket’s Orchard Sanctuary in Binyamina

Leket owns 10 acres of rich farmland nestled in Binyamina. According to data released by the Ministry of Agriculture, this land offers ideal conditions for growing citrus fruits. Now, more than ever, there’s an urgent need to harness the potential of fertile lands to secure the future of Israel’s food security. With that said, the organization wishes to expedite its plans to establish a permaculture farm on the land. The farm will be set up as follows:
A grapefruit orchard will be planted and cultivated under the guidance of seasoned citrus fruit growers.
The building and establishment of an information center, fit for the hosting of workshops and events.

The project will champion ecological farming by providing training for farmers, minimizing the use of fertilizers, pesticides, and water, while repurposing farm waste through an industrial compost machine for fertilizer. The land will be sustained through the dedication of our volunteers and provide diverse opportunities for groups eager to explore environmental conservation and enhance their understanding of sustainability.

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