FILLING BOXES with basic food staples for the needy 311.
(photo credit: Ruth Eglash)
Welfare and Social Services Minister Moshe Kahlon said that he will establish a committee to draft a code of conduct for distributing food to the needy, in an interview with Army Radio Thursday. It is incumbent upon us to “respect human dignity when we are helping those in need,” he said.
In addition to a representative from the Welfare and Social Services Ministry, the committee would include representatives from the impacted neighborhoods, academia, social activists and the organizations which provide food to the needy.
Kahlon also plans to appeal to a center specializing in ethics for guidance in drafting the code.
Former Shas minister Aryeh Deri responded Thursday to Kahlon, arguing that charitable organizations have no choice and must embrace photo opportunities when distributing food for fund-raising purposes. Without charitable contributions, the organizations cannot continue to help the needy and remain financially viable, Deri said.
Kahlon said Tuesday that unless charities are willing to change the way they distribute food to the needy, they will not get the chance to partner with the government in the future.
Speaking at a press conference where he launched a new ministry initiative of ‘credit cards’ for some 32,000 families of low socioeconomic status, the minister said Tuesday that the system of food aid distribution, which traditionally includes baskets of goods, had to “disappear.”
“I am against photographing the needy as they come to collect their food baskets,” stated Kahlon, who on Monday directly attacked the more than- 200 non-profit organizations that distribute food to the needy.
He claimed that most used their distribution activities as photo opportunities in order to solicit donations, reducing the dignity of those in need.
Kahlon also said on Tuesday that from now on, charities working with the needy would have to prove they do not use humiliating distribution methods if they want to work with the government.
He also harshly criticized charity officials for drawing high salaries and said it was time for the government to significantly reduce the number of NGOs working in the sector.
In response to Kahlon’s comments, a throng of non-profits released statements Tuesday attacking the minister and accusing him of being out of touch with how most food aid charities operate today.
“What message is he trying to send exactly?” asked Eran Weintraub, director of Latet, one of the country’s biggest aid charities.
“There are people who are working night and day to help the needy and instead of taking the time to thank them for their contribution, he attacks them! It’s a scandal.” Ruth Eglash contributed to this report.