About a quarter of Israeli households are likely to have to cut down on their
food expenses as a result of the Finance Ministry’s economic regulations passed
on Monday night as part of the 2013-14 state budget.
This according to a
survey conducted by YEDID – The Association for Community Empowerment of a
sample of 513 people from the general Jewish population.
Some 11 percent
of the respondents said they will also have to cut down on medicine; 39% said
they will reduce their household’s clothing expenses; and 35% reported that they
will spend less on cultural activities.
In “questions concerning
education and medical expenses, there were no differences between the answers of
respondents with different income levels, which may be due to the perception
that these kinds of expenses are a basic needs and can not be reduced regardless
of wealth,” the NGO said.
Ran Melamed, deputy director of YEDID, said
“the new budget includes a series of economic policies that lead to change in
the economic balance of households, which are expected to absorb an average
damage of NIS 500 to 1,000 a month.
“People will buy less food and cut
back on food products with high nutritional values ‘such as dairy, meat,
vegetables and fruits,’” Melamed said. “Israel will buy less and eat less well.
Those who will be mostly harmed are children, the elderly and pregnant
Dorit Adler, director of nutrition and diet at Hadassah
University Medical Center in Jerusalem, also addressed the survey and said the
government should act immediately to set a “healthy food basket,” in which
products will be made significantly cheaper either by a system of price controls
or by reducing the valueadded tax (currently 18%) on them.
At a national
conference of nonprofit food agencies at Tel Aviv University on Monday hosted by
Latet – Humanitarian Aid and Leket Israel – The National Food Bank to weigh the
government’s recent commitment to allocate NIS 200 million toward addressing
nutritional insecurity, Leket’s CEO, Gidi Kroch, said that “after many years of
empty promises, we are seeing a renewed interest and focus in the Welfare
Ministry [on the issue].
“We are hopeful that this will lead to changes,
where the government together with the Welfare Ministry will take responsibility
for Israeli citizens who are food insecure,” he continued. “This is an
opportunity for the new government to prove itself and to return some of the
money it has taken from its citizens to help the neediest
Leket is “eager to take an active role in this development
and partner with the minister of welfare to alter the status quo,” Kroch said.
“We understand that the road ahead is not short but beginning to move forward is
a first step in the process.”
As part of the discussion on how the NIS
200m. could be used to narrow the gaps, 150 managing directors of nonprofit food
organizations signed a letter to Welfare and Social Services Minister Meir Cohen
in support of the government fulfilling its promise and releasing the money
already in 2013.
“Even though according to the new director-general of
the Welfare and Social Services Ministry who said that maybe there are hungry
children but no one is starving, this is our most serious problem and it affects
the nation’s future,” Latet CEO Eran Weintraub said.
needs to find a solution,” he continued. “We are on the brink of changing
directions, having struggled for so many years, facing disappointments and
frustrations while all along feeding hundreds of thousands of Israelis lacking
in basic food for a balanced diet. It’s imperative that these changes begin in
2013 as the situation continues to deteriorate.”