Man shopping in supermarket 300.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch)
One-fifth of Israel’s citizens cannot afford to purchase an adequate amount of
food in order to subsist, according to new data from the National Insurance
Institute (NII) released Tuesday at the Sderot Conference for
Presented at a panel featuring representatives of the Finance
and Welfare and Social Affairs ministries, local authorities and the non-profit
sector, the NII findings from a survey of some 5,000 families showed that 10
percent of the population suffers from some level of starvation or nutritional
insecurity, and nearly 20% feel extreme financial insecurity.
Poverty rate lowest since 2003, report finds
survey’s results showed that 13% of those questioned said they often had been
forced to go without enough food, and 4% had been forced to forgo food
One-third of the respondents said they had used money
earmarked for food to make other essential purchases, and 20% said they had to
turn to friends or family members for help in buying food.
“There is a
serious problem with nutritional insecurity whereby people are forced to go
without enough food, or without food completely; in other cases families find
food but it is not appropriate or healthy,” commented the Welfare Ministry’s
director-general, Nahum Itzkovitz. However, he said using the term “hunger”
might be a little extreme.
There are problems feeding the needy, admitted
“A close examination of food distribution by the third sector
reveals that while some families are receiving ample food, there are others who
get no help at all,” he said. “There is also a problem with the quality of the
Itzkovitz suggested a program of distributing ration cards so that
those in need will be able to “purchase food with dignity.”
program, he added, had already been presented to the prime minister, and an
agreement was reached to create it on a small scale.
Eckstein, director and founder of the International Fellowship of Christians and
Jews, one of the country’s largest social welfare non-profits, said during the
discussion that the survey results were “shocking, but not
“It is not right that hundreds of thousands of citizens in
Israel cannot feed themselves adequately,” he said.
Eckstein, who two
years ago, together with the Welfare and Social Affairs Ministry, announced the
creation of a special program to address nutritional insecurity among the
country’s weaker sectors, lashed out at the government for not coming through
with appropriate funding.
In response, a Finance Ministry representative
said the Treasury had no control over benefits paid out by the NII.