FILLING BOXES with basic food staples for the needy 311.
(photo credit: Ruth Eglash)
Non-profit organizations working to distribute food to the needy hit back
Tuesday at disparaging comments made one day earlier by Welfare and
Social Affairs Minister Moshe Kahlon.
Kahlon, who became minister just over a
year ago, said in an interview with Army Radio, that he opposes the method of
“throwing boxes of food at the poor.” He accused charities of using holidays
such as Passover to take photos of those in need standing in line just to solicit
He also harshly criticized charity officials for drawing high
salaries and said it was time for the government to reduce the number of
charities working in the sector.
“What message is he trying to send
exactly?” asked Eran Weintraub, Director of Latet, one of the country’s biggest
food aid charities.
“There are people who are working night and day to
help the needy but we never see Kahlon volunteering and he earns more than NIS
50,000 a month!” Weintraub said that instead of the government developing a
national plan to tackle what he says are among “the highest poverty rates in
Europe,” non-profit organizations are forced to help the estimated 220,000 needy
families in Israel.
“We have been trying to get the government to take
more responsibility on this and if they were to take up the challenge of helping
the poor then we would stop our work tomorrow,” he said, adding that Kahlon’s
comments were just populistic and designed to get him attention in the
“To have a government with 39 ministers and only one dealing with
social issues part time shows exactly its attitude to poverty in a general
sense,” added Weintraub. “It is a shame that instead of him trying to spin
attention he does not actually say thank you to the thousands of citizens that
volunteer to help the poor in this way.”
On Tuesday, the Welfare Ministry
is set to launch a new program together with the International Fellowship of
Christians and Jews whereby those in need will receive “credit cards” so that
they can purchase food on their own time and without have to go through the
humiliating process of standing inline for handouts.