After distributing tens of thousands of food aid packages to poor families before the holiday, the Chasdei Naomi assistance organization said that in a poll it had taken of activity by its own volunteers and of other assistance organizations, it had determined that 12% of Israelis received some form of food assistance for Passover.
Chasdei Naomi, like dozens of other non-profit chessed (assistance) organizations, distributed “care packages” consisting of matzah, chicken and meat, vegetables, wine, and other basic supplies to families all over Israel, intended to enable them to conduct their Passover Seder in a dignified manner.
According to Chasdei Naomi, 59% of those who received assistance this year said that this was the first time they had asked for Passover help – indicating that the economic picture for poor people in Israel was worse than it has been in the past.
In a report last week, State Comptroller Yosef Shapira slammed the state's failure to provide adequate nutritional assistance to poor Israelis. According to the report, 900,000 Israelis – 360,000 of them children – miss meals because they cannot afford to buy food they need for three meals a day.
Instead of supporting the hungry itself, the government has preferred to leave the job to private organizations that raise money and collect food from wealthier Israelis. “These groups are not effective enough,” Shapira wrote. “Most of the assistance provided by these organizations is for food for Passover, but this is a once a year event for many of the poor. The organizations are the ones who decide how much food to provide and when to give it out, and this too is unacceptable.
“In the absence of government action, the problem has been 'offloaded' to local authorities, most of which have very limited resources. As a result, it is up to the private organizations to take on the burden of the hungry. This must stop,” he added.