(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
A majority of Israelis (57 percent) believe that the best way to help those lacking nutritional security is to provide them with vouchers to buy their own food, rather than through the distribution of food parcels by charitable organizations, according to a survey released Monday.
The survey was initiated by opposition leader MK Isaac Herzog (Labor), who is the chairman of the Knesset Lobby for Nutritional Security in Israel and YEDID – Association for Community Empowerment, and is set to be presented at a conference on nutritional security later this week.
According to the findings, 47% of respondents believe that welfare departments in local authorities should be responsible for the distribution of food vouchers to the needy, while 35% believe this task should fall on the National Insurance Institute, and some 18% believe that NGOs should distribute the vouchers.
“Nutritional security is a basic condition for living with dignity and that is how the government should address it. In order to combat the growing phenomenon of food insecurity the government must set this as a national goal with a high priority and allocate the appropriate resources,” Herzog said on Monday.
“There is no reason that in a country as wealthy and advanced as Israel so many people will suffer from food insecurity,” he added.
One of the central themes in the survey concerned the obligation of the state to assist in the effort to distribute food and food vouchers to the needy.
The findings indicated that 73% of respondents believed that the state should assist event halls and restaurants to contribute excess food to the needy.
Furthermore, 46% believed that the state should either completely or to a large extent fund the NGOs distributing food to the needy.
In contrast, 19% believed the state should not fund or offer very little funds to the NGOs.
The survey found that a vast majority, 87% of respondents, said they do not volunteer with any charitable organization helping to distribute food to the needy. More than a third of the respondents, 38%, said they donate money for the collection and distribution of food to the needy on a regular basis, while 62% said they only contribute rarely or have never donated.
More than half (53%) of the respondents opposed holding televised fund-raising events to benefit the underprivileged, as they believed these efforts would only harm the needy.
“We ask for the expansion of lunch programs in schools to reach higher grades, providing hot meals for children during the holidays, and especially an ongoing budget for the Nutritional Security Council enabling it to actually establish and implement government policy,” said Ran Melamed, deputy director of YEDID in response to the findings of the survey.
The survey was conducted by the Maagar Mochot research institution from August 28 to August 29 among 515 respondents above the age of 18 and reflects a margin of error of +/- 4.5%.