National Food Bank CEO: NIS 8b. worth of edibles wasted annually

“We are throwing away good food people can eat and nobody is doing anything to fix it.”

Leket Volunteers Picking Produce for the Needy (photo credit: COURTESY LEKET ISRAEL)
Leket Volunteers Picking Produce for the Needy
Gidi Kroch, the CEO of Leket – The National Food Bank, wants the state to get involved in food rescue.
Despite successfully rescuing thousands of tons of food over the span of his NGO’s 14-year existence, he is troubled that it is only able to rescue about 3% of what is being discarded annually.
Speaking to The Jerusalem Post on Thursday, he explained that this number can easily be increased if the government funds food rescue.
Kroch presented additional figures concerning food rescue and waste: “NIS 19 billion worth of [discarded] food is rescuable, and half of it is consumable and it’s being thrown away.
We are talking about NIS 8b. worth of food per year being wasted and there is no innovation to try to salvage it.”
Kroch called upon the government to champion food rescue: “We are throwing away good food people can eat and nobody is doing anything to fix it.”
He told the Post that he has had meetings with government officials in the past and they keep telling them that they don’t have enough money.
“If the government invested just NIS 3b. toward food rescue, there would be no hunger problem. But we are only asking for NIS 1b. to handle food insecurity for Israel.”
He said he has yet to find a Knesset member or a minister who is willing to work with Leket in order to put more funding into food rescue.
“In order to rescue more food, we need a lot of government financing, so the government needs to realize there is a need for it [food rescue],” he said.
For last month’s annual World Food Day, which takes place on October 16 and is marked by organizations dealing with food security and world hunger.
Leket released a study that it commissioned from Lexidale Internal Policy Consulting that does comparative research into food rescue and loss reduction.
The report compared Israel to seven places in the developed world (Canada, United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Norway, Singapore and the European Union) with a focus on government involvement in food rescue and distribution.
Israel ranked the lowest in every category, which included dedicated legislation, tailor- made regulations, public awareness campaigns, large scale research and subsidies, bids and competitions.
He explained that Israel is on the lower end of the food rescue spectrum on a global level but ranks the highest in cost of living.
Kroch believes Israeli innovation and government funding are the keys to rescuing food.
He takes inspiration from the food stamp program in the United States and believes it can work here too. “In the States, they are using their food stamp program to rescue food and to channel it to food banks.
There’s a lot of talk in the world about food banks and nutrition, but not in Israel.
We need legislation to bring this program here to Israel.”
He sees this report as the first step to bringing government attention to food rescue, but added that the efforts have remained fruitless.
“We are working with other NGOs all the time [to get government help], and in the end we get stonewalled because nobody is willing to champion this cause. If we find a champion, this will be an important first step.”
Kroch sees the dozens of charitable organizations providing meals to people in need locally as an obstacle to the state funding food rescue.
“The fabric of the community is serving the people, but that puts a lot of strain on us who deal with 175 million tons of rescued food.”
He added, “The government isn’t providing any solutions because it sees the people taking care of themselves. But it is not seeing the full picture. If people riot as they did in 2011 [during the social justice movement], then maybe it [the government] will start a committee.
But why wait for riots? There are no riots in the streets, so the government doesn’t care.”