Israel's schools: Better scores, less violence and absences, but more hunger - survey

An end-of-year survey by an Israeli NGO found a sizable post-COVID increase in hungry children within the Israeli educational system.

 View of an empty school at in Tel Aviv, as schools begin at 10 A.M. following a strike of the Teachers Union, on June 19, 2022.  (photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/FLASH90)
View of an empty school at in Tel Aviv, as schools begin at 10 A.M. following a strike of the Teachers Union, on June 19, 2022.
(photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/FLASH90)

Israeli NGO NEVET released a survey this week adding to existing data that indicates a correlation between proper nutrition and academic success.

NEVET is an organization that provides daily meals for over 11,000 Israeli schoolchildren living in a state of food insecurity.

"Since 2019 our activities have increased by 30 percent but in large part, due to COVID-19, the scope of poverty has grown even faster and the negative impacts on children have been enormous."

Rotem Yosef-Giladi, CEO of NEVET

The survey showed overall positive trends in academic performance and in-school behavior in schools participating in NEVET's program. However, this year also saw a spike in the number of students in need of food. 

"Since 2019 our activities have increased by 30 percent but in large part, due to COVID-19, the scope of poverty has grown even faster and the negative impacts on children have been enormous," explained Rotem Yosef-Giladi, CEO of NEVET.

 Israeli teachers protest as they demand better pay and working conditions in Tel Aviv on May 30, 2022.  (credit: TOMER NEUBERG/FLASH90) Israeli teachers protest as they demand better pay and working conditions in Tel Aviv on May 30, 2022. (credit: TOMER NEUBERG/FLASH90)

"We regularly speak to local community leaders and Knesset members as well as philanthropists who share our vision to simply provide a sandwich to each kid who needs it, which not only gives them nutrition but also self-confidence and the ability to thrive in their educational frameworks."

Impact of the teacher strikes

Recent teacher strikes have also impacted students who face food insecurity and rely on the school food system as a meal source — they cannot access their school meals if there is no school.  

“While teachers obviously deserve to be paid and we support that effort, we need to be fully aware of the larger picture of the damage that these strikes are doing," Yosef-Giladi said. 

NEVET's overall goal is to level the playing field among students with access to daily school meals and students without. As indicated by NEVET's recent study a full, nutritious diet allows for students to do much better in school both academically and socially. By providing food to those students who are lacking, the NGO gives children living with food insecurity the opportunity to excel despite the odds.