Participants at the emergency meeting
Participants at the emergency meetingAssaf Klieger

An emergency conference was held Wednesday by organizations that provide food assistance to Israel's poor. The conference, organized by the Latet organization, was called to protest the cancellation of the government's “nutritional insurance” program. Leaders of the organizations, which serve poor Israelis from every segment of the population, said that it was unconscionable that the government would remove what little funding it already gave to the poor, leaving private organizations to bear nearly the whole burden by themselves.

Several years ago, a number of aid organizations began negotiating with the government to make up shortfalls in their assistance to the poor. The government contracted with several organizations to distribute food that would be purchased with government money, but current Welfare Minister Moshe Kachlon has decided not to pursue the arrangement in its current form. The aid organizations say that they themselves can no longer shoulder the burden, and that without a minimum of NIS 250 in immediate assistance, the aid network in Israel will simply cease to function, leaving hundreds of thousands hungry.

The organizations also demanded that Kachlon include the issue of “nutritional insurance,” a pledge by the government that any family in need that the private aid organizations do not have resources to help will receive that assistance from the government. Speakers at Wednesday's events condemned the Ministry, claiming that it was failing to fulfill its mission of ensuring the social welfare of Israeli citizens. “We must enact sufficient protections in the area of nutritional insurance that ensure that people in need do not become beggars forced to stand in an endless line for a food package,” said Ran Melamed, Deputy Director of the Yedid organization, in a letter to Kachlon.

Kachlon, for his part, issued a statement that he had been adamant in demanding from the Treasury that they provide more assistance for the poor. Kachlon is set to meet with the leaders of the aid organizations next week.