Quarter of needy people forced to forgo holiday meal
“During holidays, when we are sitting with families eating apple and honey, it is important we remember hundreds of thousands of citizens that during the year have little to eat.”
By RUTH EGLASH
More than a quarter of people living below the poverty line in Israel forgo a festive holiday meal due to their financial situation, a study published Tuesday ahead of the Jewish New Year and holiday season has revealed.Using a sample of some 300 people that use the services of soup kitchens and food aid organizations, the study also found that 40 percent of those interviewed worried that they would not be able to afford enough food to feed their families sufficiently over the festival season.The study was carried out by New Wave Research at the request of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ), a non-profit organization that relies on funding from individuals in the US and that donates some NIS 4 million a year for food distribution to needy families.“During the holidays, when we are all sitting with our families and eating apple and honey, it is important that we remember hundreds of thousands of citizens that during the year have little to eat,” commented Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, founder and chairman of the IFCJ, in a press release.Among the other findings of the survey, which was carried out at five centers across the country, 45% of those interviewed said they eat in a soup kitchen every day and 67% said they would buy their food in a subsidized supermarket if they had the option to do so.In addition, a large number (60%) of respondents said they would not be eating meat for the Rosh Hashana meal and 45% said they could not afford chicken either.Finally, an overwhelming number (91%) said it was the role of the government to provide its citizens with nutritional security.“We hope that this coming year, together the help of the Israeli government, we can take real steps towards improving the nutritional security of every needy Israeli citizen,” said Eckstein, adding that the IFCJ was already involved in a Ministry of Welfare and Social Services program focusing on addressing nutritional security for poverty-stricken families.To date, the IFCJ has committed NIS 1m. a year to the program for the next three years.
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