Labor and Social Services Minister Haim Katz along with Mendy Blau, Israel director of Colel Chabad at the launch of the food security initiative in the Knesset.
(photo credit: LABOR AND SOCIAL SERVICES MINISTRY)
Labor and Social Services Minister Haim Katz announced the launch of a national initiative for food security estimated at NIS 60 million on Monday.
The program, run in collaboration with Colel Chabad and Leket Israel – the National Food Bank, will award some 10,800 needy families suffering from food insecurity a NIS 500 per month prepaid card to purchase food.
“Today we are launching a new initiative whose aim is to enable families in need of nutritional security all year round and in a respectable manner,” Katz said at a press conference before launching the initiative in the Knesset.
The program will start off as a pilot beginning this month with the aim of replacing the current system of providing food baskets for the needy only on the holidays; it will instead provide ongoing monthly assistance.
As such, families will receive a prepaid card of which NIS 250 can be used to buy food and necessities in grocery stores, with the exception of tobacco and alcohol, while the additional NIS 250 will be used to buy rescued food, such as fruit and vegetables, which will be delivered directly to the homes of needy families.
Some 36 municipalities will participate in the initiative for the pilot run, including Jerusalem, Beersheba, Safed, Baka al-Gharbiya, Kfar Kasim and Sderot.
“This is an initiative that includes all segments of the population from all over the country – North, South, Center, haredim [ultra-Orthodox] and secular, Jews and Arabs,” Katz said.
He said he hoped the pilot initiative would succeed and prove useful so that the project could be expanded to include more underprivileged families throughout the country.
Mendy Blau, the director of Colel Chabad, the longest serving social-welfare organization in Israel, operating for 226 years, called the initiative “a real upheaval.”
“This is the first time that there is a program of such a large magnitude built in the right manner, respectable and respecting [of the needy] that puts at the center the family in need of assistance,” he said.
Blau thanked the welfare minister on behalf of the underprivileged families for his “support for this huge and important project.”
Leket Israel CEO Gidi Kroch said for years his organization has “raised awareness of the financial, social, and environmental benefits of food rescue.”
“I welcome the Welfare Ministry’s initiative to deal with the issue of food insecurity also by providing food to the needy that has been rescued,” he said. “Leket Israel transfers food to those in need on an ongoing basis. But thanks to this project and its partners, we managed to reach families who suffer from severe nutritional insecurity and some of which we did not care for until today.”