WIZO students stand under billboard in Afula for Day without Hunger.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Students from the Women’s International Zionist Organization’s (WIZO) Nir Ha’emek Youth Village in the Jezreel Valley launched a campaign on Monday to address the issue of child hunger and poverty in Israel.
The campaign, “From three, one is hungry,” aims to raise awareness of the poverty statistics and encourage youth to take responsibility to help combat the phenomenon.
As part of the campaign, the students declared Monday to be a “Day without Hunger” and rallied dozens of businesses throughout the North, including restaurants, pizzerias, cafes and kiosks, to sell food and meals to schoolchildren for only NIS 2.
Afula is serving as the pilot city for the project, and the students recruited the Afula Municipality, which donated billboards to advertise and raise awareness of the initiative.
According to the annual poverty report by the National Insurance Institute published in December, there were some 1,658,200 people living in poverty in 2013, among them 756,900 children and 432,600 families.
The Alternative Poverty Report published annually in December by the Latet NGO reported even higher rates of poverty – some 2,546,000 people, with one out of three children, living in poverty. The findings indicated that a quarter of children went to sleep hungry at least a few times a month, while 65 percent did not receive a hot meal at school for lunch.
“We realized that without a significant awakening of the general public to significantly and continually pressure the decision-makers in the country, the social situation would not change and even may worsen,” said Shaked Shushu, the chairman of the youth village student council who led the initiative.
According to Shushu, the students decided to launch the project ahead of the upcoming elections in the hopes of placing the issue of poverty on the agenda.
“We decided to do something.
We decided to awaken the public from its apathy, with a belief that we, as the next generation, have the responsibility and the ability to act to change the difficult social situation in the country,” he said.
The pilot program in the North is only the first step, according to the students, who hope to expand the project to other municipalities throughout the country in collaboration with the National Student Council.
“We are proud of our students, who are being educated first and foremost as involved citizens, giving back to the community, and not just [as] students who aspire to achieve the best results. The youth of today are the politicians, economists and social scientists of tomorrow, and their social engagement today is critical for building a more just and equal society,” said Prof. Rivka Lazovsky, chairwoman of World WIZO Executive.