A food security pilot program has been added to Israel’s national budget

With NIS 155 million of annual support, the program aims to feed those in need, while granting struggling families the tools needed to escape food insecurity.

 L to R: Yael Eckstein, president and CEO of International Fellowship of Christians and Jews; Labor Minister Meir Cohen; Rabbi Mendy Blau, Israel Director of Colel Chabad; Avi Ben Zikry, associate director-general of the Labor, Social Affairs and Social Services Ministry. (photo credit: IFCJ)
L to R: Yael Eckstein, president and CEO of International Fellowship of Christians and Jews; Labor Minister Meir Cohen; Rabbi Mendy Blau, Israel Director of Colel Chabad; Avi Ben Zikry, associate director-general of the Labor, Social Affairs and Social Services Ministry.
(photo credit: IFCJ)

The government will provide 72% of the NIS 155 million annual budget for a National Food Security Initiative pilot program, according to an agreement signed this week by Labor, Social Affairs and Social Services Minister Meir Cohen. The remainder will come from donor support raised by Colel Chabad, International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, the Blavatnik Food Bank, individuals and partner organizations.

The program was initially developed by former minister Isaac Herzog. It was designed to implement a variety of programs aimed at combating poverty by strengthening the ability of individuals and families to overcome their financial challenges.

Rather than solely distributing handouts, the program is closely regulated to ensure the funds are being utilized in a way that encourages the recipients to escape a downward cycle of poverty.

The goal

Charity organization Colel Chabad has been selected to oversee the expansion of the national program.

“At a time when so many in Israel continue to suffer from financial challenges, which only intensified over the course of the pandemic, we are deeply encouraged that the Israeli government has recognized this initiative as a budgetary priority,” said Rabbi Sholom Duchman, director of Colel Chabad. “We welcome this decision with a sense of both pride in our charitable achievements but more so a deep responsibility for the task that lies ahead.”

 Israeli money bills. (credit: PIXABAY) Israeli money bills. (credit: PIXABAY)

“The government recognizes that food insecurity is no longer a problem that can be left to the private sector but is truly an issue of national interest that if properly addressed can change the very future of this country,” he said.

The program’s goal is to ultimately increase families’ abilities to sustain themselves financially, Duchman said.

The government funding will be distributed among the 237 local municipalities, allowing the program to support 30,000 families per month.

In addition to specific food products worth a total of NIS 500 that families receive directly each month, the beneficiaries will be encouraged to participate in courses in budget management and nutrition so they can learn how to best utilize the funds and foods provided to them and gain tools to become financially independent.

For the first time, the program will be distributing baby formula to 3,100 young mothers who need help feeding their infants.

“Ensuring basic food security is a fundamental value for developing welfare policy with the goal of reducing gaps in Israeli society.”

Labor, Social Affairs and Social Services Minister Meir Cohen

“Ensuring basic food security is a fundamental value for developing welfare policy with the goal of reducing gaps in Israeli society,” Cohen said. “By increasing the budget and resources of this national initiative, we will be able to advance responsible welfare policy that will encourage social accountability toward that goal of a society with greater equality within the greater population.”