On Hanukkah, NGO urges focus on hungry Israeli schoolchildren

New campaign launches to capitalize on growing Hanukkah charity tradition.

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Arutz Sheva Staff,

Hanukkah
Hanukkah
Flash 90

For the upcoming fifth night of Hanukkah, which will be celebrated on December 16, Nevet, a nonprofit organization that provides free breakfast sandwiches to needy schoolchildren in Israel, on Tuesday urged American Jews to help feed hungry Israeli schoolchildren.

Nevet rolled out its new campaign on social media.

The Fifth Night initiative started in the Boston area and has grown into a national celebration from New Jersey to Texas, allowing families to reframe the holiday’s emphasis on gift giving and to pass on core Jewish values from one generation to the next.

Most Israeli students head to school in the morning with at least one breakfast sandwich, which they consume during a morning break. But many families in lower-income brackets or from dysfunctional family settings suffer from food insecurity – the inability to regularly access healthy food – and as a result, an estimated 21,000 kids go to school daily without a breakfast sandwich.

Nevet still has 13,500 children on its waiting list, and believes more work needs to be done.

“Without a healthy morning meal, students cannot properly concentrate in school, and their academic performance suffers. In the longer term, these students risk becoming trapped in a cycle of poverty,” said Rotem Yosef, vice president of strategic development for Nevet.

“The Fifth Night of Hanukkah is a wonderful opportunity to address this pressing issue. With the simple breakfast sandwich, we can offer a nutritional anchor that can lift many children into a new level of academic achievement, and ultimately to propel them to a greater chance of succeeding,” added Yosef.

Nevet currently provides some 8,000 Israeli schoolchildren in grades one-12 at 130 schools across the country with a nutritious sandwich every morning. Ninety-six percent of school principals working with Nevet said students who received the breakfast sandwiches showed a marked improvement in their academic performance, and 83 percent of principals reported improved school attendance rates with the program.

Still, Nevet fears the problem could intensify. According to Israel’s National Insurance Institute, more than 800,000 children live below the poverty line. Meanwhile, a recent OECD survey of literacy in math, reading and science of 15 year-olds in 72 countries found Israel revealed the greatest gap in grades between students of different cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds.

“The simple breakfast sandwich remains the key to our philosophy that a healthy breakfast paves the way to effective learning and ultimately drives greater social mobility,” said Yosef. “This Hanukkah, let’s take the opportunity to raise awareness of the importance of nutrition for all young Israelis.”








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