Leket: Budget makes it harder to help poor

"NGOs doing food distribution will simply collapse when there is no financial support from the gov't," NGO head says.

May 17, 2013 02:31
1 minute read.
Homeless man on Jerusalem's Jaffa Street.

Homeless man 370. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)

The draft 2013-14 state budget will put added strain on agencies caring for the poor, Gidi Kroch, the CEO of Leket Israel, which distributes rescued food to Israelis in need, told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday.

“There is nothing surprising” about the OECD data released on Wednesday placing Israel at the top of the poverty scale in developed countries, Kroch said.

Almost 21 percent of Israelis lived in poverty in 2011, compared to an average of 11.1% among the rest of the OECD member states.

In addition, Israel ranked fifth in regards to income gaps after Chile, Mexico, Turkey and the United States.

“We know there are a lot of poor in Israel,” he said. “The problem is when you combine this with the current draft budget, which just offers no solution to the issue. Gaps increased and apparently will continue to do so.”

The budget cuts will have a direct impact on the expenses of NGOs nationwide, Kroch said.

“NGOs doing food distribution will simply collapse when there is no financial support from the government and they are expected to fulfill the state’s role in taking care of these people,” he said. “There are NGOs today that have trucks which they can’t use because they have no money to do so.”

Leket, which acts as a food bank and is assisting some 140,000 people in need across the country, had already seen many middle class citizens fall into poverty in the past year, Kroch said.

“When the middle class is hurt, they will also donate less to NGOs,” he said.

Leket is expected to participate in the first meeting of the Lobby for Nutritional Security in Israel, headed by Labor MK Isaac Herzog, at the Knesset on Monday, in which NGOs will present solutions in the field to members of the lobby, as well as representatives of the Finance Ministry.

“There is a lot of food thrown away and destroyed in Israel, in catering, hotels and restaurants,” Kroch said. “If we can save that food, that is a solution.”

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