Among the more than two million Israeli children who will be heading back to school in the coming weeks, tens of thousands are known to be facing desperate challenges from poverty and dysfunctional homes, and will arrive to school without with even the most basic food.
The Israeli-based charity NEVET works to combat the growing problem, and distributes over 11,000 sandwiches for ‘aruchat 10’ (the 10:00a.m. meal) every day in schools all around the country. To start the new school year, NEVET recently launched an online video campaign to raise awareness of the issue and the necessary funds to respond to the growing need.
The short video, disseminated on a variety of social media platforms, features young children from England, South Africa, and the United States as they prepare for school, sending a basic message of the need for solidarity between students and communities around the world.
Taking part in the campaign is nine-year-old Danny Noimark from Edgware, England.
“I think it’s really important as I have friends in my school who sometimes don’t bring snacks in as they can’t afford them,” he said. “I felt really bad for them so it is such a lovely idea that a charity like NEVET can arrange for all children to get their food every day like all the other children and not feel left out or hungry.”
“Projects like these are so instrumental in making sure little bellies are full so kids can concentrate in school, having fun, and just being kids,” said Shevi Jassinowsky of Johannesburg, whose five-year-old daughter Leyla took part in the campaign. “No one should ever go hungry.”
“NEVET’s message, and what we believe is the key to our ability to make a real difference, is that complex problems like poverty don’t require complex solutions,” explains Rotem Yosef-Giladi, CEO of NEVET. “We need to make sure every kid possible has basic nutrition so they can thrive, both physically and mentally, alongside their peers at school. This video helps spread the message that this simple solution of caring for a fellow student is something that people all over the world can support.”
According to NEVET, the demand for their services far exceeds what they are able to currently offer and with each new year they receive an influx of requests from principals and teachers to help additional students. Research has proven that in addition to proper nutrition countering medical and developmental issues, addressing student hunger directly reduces behavioral issues and delinquency in schools as well as strengthening a student’s academic performance.
“Many of the issues that we face with students lagging behind or inability to thrive in a typical classroom setting is linked to the fact that they are hungry – which understandably makes them irritable and unable to focus,” Yosef-Giladi says. “When our program reaches these kids from difficult homes we have been blessed to see remarkable transitions in very short amount of time. We very much hope this campaign will reach people who share our vision that even something as simple as a sandwich can change these kids’ lives.”