This year, over 2.5 million Israelis live below the poverty line, among them are over 1.1 million innocent children. Three in five Israeli children suffer from hunger, and almost half of the elderly living in Israel do not have enough nutritious meals.
Since the year 2000, Meir Panim has been working to assist as many poor Israelis as possible by providing them with meals and social services, including restaurant-style soup kitchens, meals-on-wheels, youth centers, programs for Holocaust survivors, and more.
Israel National News visited Meir Panim's Jerusalem branch which is located in the center of town and serves hundreds of warm meals daily. The Jerusalem location is just one of Meir Panim's five free restaurants, located throughout the county.
"If you don't have enough to take care of yourself and your family the holidays can be an incredibly difficult and sad time, and at Meir Panim we make it our goal not just to help people with their immediate needs but to help them celebrate with joy and celebration," explains Mimi Rozmaryn, Meir Panim's director of global development.
Rozmaryn told Israel National News that the fall holiday season is always the busiest time of year for Meir Panim's branches across the country, this holds even more true this year, due to the rise in the cost of living, along with the increase in the number of individuals who live below the poverty line. For Rosh Hashanah alone Meir Panim provided over 25 thousand ready-made meals and 15 thousand holiday baskets containing food and pantry items, and 10 thousand grocery vouchers that can be used to buy what the recipients wish.
"There are so many places that are helping people in need and with different things this time of year. Meir Panim is really special because we have the ability to help people, to see what they need, to respond, to help build connections with them, to give them a complete life so that they can jump back into their lives and they can get whole again," Rozmaryn adds.