Israel's Hunger Problem
Many Christians are surprised to learn that over 20% of Israelis including a third of children and Holocaust Survivors live below the poverty line. Families and the elderly struggle to pay for their rent, medical bills, utilities and food, often the food budget is the first to get slashed. This has caused a nutritional insecurity crisis among Israel’s most vulnerable but the problem is not just poverty it is waste as well.
Food Waste in Israel
Amidst the hunger 35% of Israel’s food, 6 Billion USD worth, is wasted never reaching those in need. Perfectly good, healthy nutritious foods never leave the farm because they are oddly shaped. Truckloads of fresh produce are destroyed at packing houses because a sudden drop in market prices makes the food unprofitable to market. Thousands of tons of good food is lost in the kitchens of hotels, cafeterias, mall food courts and IDF bases because it is unconsumed by the end of the day.
To learn more about this crisis in Israel read our 2019 Report on Food Waste in Israel.
The needless waste of food, while hundreds of thousands go hungry, shocked our founder, Joseph Gitler. He went into action when he witnessed food go to waste after a wedding celebration – food which could be collected and distributed to the needy. Compelled by God’s commandments to show compassion for the poor he made a few calls to catering companies and soup kitchens and turned his car and his garage into a food distribution service.
Over the past fifteen years his tiny car has turned into a fleet of refrigerated trucks which transport food from over five hundred farms, major corporations and the Israeli Defense Forces to over 200 non profit partners to feed those in need.
Leket Israel’s focus is on food distribution and we are proud to say we now feed over 246,000 Israelis in need each week! Support from our Jewish and Christian donors allows us to provide five star hotel meals to elderly Holocaust Survivors and transfer nutritious meals from IDF bases to schools which provide a last chance for at risk youth.
We are also careful to ensure the food we offer is of the highest nutritional value. Our recipients often struggle with their health, at risk youth and elderly Holocaust Survivors for example. We simply can not offer them anything but the best. A recent scientific study “Food-Aid Quality Correlates Positively With Diet Quality of Food Pantry Users in the Leket Israel Food Bank Collaborative” demonstrates that. You can download that report here.
But our impact is felt much more widely in society. Our expert dietitians provide training to at risk populations like the nomadic Bedouin in how to prepare and store food safely and our expert advice was highly sought after by the Knesset, Israel’s government, when they were searching for means to combat poverty and food waste. Because of our advocacy in the government much of the red tape which prevented farmers and others from feeding the poor has been cut as Leket Israel has assumed all legal liability.
Leket: It's Biblical!
Our work is inspired by the commandment of “Leket”, which means to glean, found in Deuteronomy 24. This commandment allowed the poor of Israel to pick from the fields for food, it was this commandment which caused Boaz to allow Ruth to glean from the fields for herself and Naomi. We follow this commandment in a modern way, using trucks and warehouses but with the same goal of making sure food from the fields makes it to those in need.
As the Christian arm of Leket Israel, we also believe Christians have a duty to support the Jewish people in Israel. The Bible clearly states in passages like Genesis 12:3 “I will bless those who bless you” and Romans 15:7, “…minister to them in material things” clearly mean that since the Jews are God’s Chosen People we have a duty to support them and defend them from hunger.