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Welfare Ministry, NGOs Clash over Passover Aid

The topic of aid for needy families on Passover has become a touchy one, with the Welfare Ministry and food charities trading accusations.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 4/3/2012, 12:54 PM

Volunteer prepares food packages
Volunteer prepares food packages
Flash 90

The subject of assistance for the needy on Passover has become a controversial one in recent days as the Welfare Ministry and food distribution organizations trade accusations.

The heads of several food aid groups spoke to Channel 10 this week and complained that they have far more requests for food than their donors can cover. Many reported an increase of up to 30% in those seeking assistance, while at the same time, donations have dropped as energy prices rise.

The Welfare Ministry has distributed food coupons to 30,000 needy families, but NGO heads say that a total of 200,000 families are in need.

“We’re very disappointed by the part-time Welfare Minister Moshe Kachlon,” said Attorney Eran Weintrob, head of Latet.”He killed the initiative for food security with his own hands,” Weintrob added, referring to a government initiative that would make the state directly responsible for ensuring that poor families have sufficient food. Currently, the government provides food aid via NGOs.

Kachlon “started with a ‘social’ image. It was a great trick pulled by Netanyahu,” Weintrob accused.

Meanwhile, Kachlon had harsh criticism for many food distribution groups in an interview with Galei Tzahal. “They tell people, ‘Come at five,’ and then they invite the TV and website crews, to come see the crowds at that time, so it looks like we’re a third-world country,” he said. “You want to give? Give discreetly.”

Kachlon also accused managers of food distribution groups of taking salaries of tens of thousands of shekels per month, leaving less for those in need.

He told the station that he strongly supports the food security initiative, and hopes that the government will take direct responsibility for food distribution by next year.