Food for the needy
Food for the needy Flash 90

While the recent passage of the national budget by the Knesset is likely to affect Israelis in a wide variety of ways, for those who rely on government support for food security, the development promises to have an almost immediate impact.

The Israeli Ministry of Welfare in partnership with Colel Chabad officially launched the National Food Security Initiative in 2017 as a way to help over ten thousand families from falling further into a cycle of poverty. The program was an expansion of the support system started for 2,500 families in 2003 by Israeli businessman Moti Ben Moshe and further increased by Sir Len Blavtnik in 2006.

Rather than just providing direct handouts, the National Food Security Initiative, implemented by Colel Chabad and Leket Israel, is structured to provide food and support to help families become more fiscally responsible and engage in healthier eating practices.

Since its inception, the project has been allocated twenty million shekel annually from the government budget. Yet despite increased poverty and hunger which has only been further fueled by the practical and economic challenges from the coronavirus pandemic, the budget deadlock had prevented any further funding increases. The program was initially designed to help support 10,000 families but the need has since skyrocketed to as many as 30,000 families in need as of November 2021.

According to Mendy Blau, Israel Director of Colel Chabad, Israel’s longest running social services organization, the budget passage could not have come too soon.

“These 30,000 families, the most hard-hit out of 110,000 families living under the poverty line, are directly threatened by hunger and food insecurity. With the passage of this budget and with the support of Minister [Avigdor] Liberman (Yisrael Beytenu) from the Treasury and Minister [Meir] Cohen (Yesh Atid) from the Welfare [Ministry], the government will be increasing their support in 2022 to 80 million shekel.”

As significant partners over the years, Keren L’Yedidut, the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, has also continued to increase their funding during the challenging COVID-19-hit times.

The program serves all elements within Israel’s population.

“When it comes to responding to hunger, the reality is that there is no room for politics, so whatever disagreements there were over the budget, the fact that so many more families will now be helped is something that we can certainly all agree is worthy of praise,” Blau added.

“We are honored to continue to partner with the Israeli government in this effort, making such a direct impact on the lives of tens of thousands of Israelis,” said Rabbi Sholom Duchman, Director of Colel Chabad. “With these critical funds we feel confident that we will be able to quickly implement the system we have been continually improving since this program was launched and ensure heightened food and financial security for so many vulnerable families.”