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Tens of thousands of Israeli families could have no food on Rosh Hashanah

SC 27/08/2021


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Tens of thousands of Israeli families could go without food this holiday season.
Data from the National Insurance Institute in 2018 showed that 21.2% of the population was living in poverty, including 29.6% of the country’s children (about one in three children). The last year and a half of the COVID-19 crisis has only exacerbated the challenge. 
At its peak, more than 1 million Israelis were unemployed during the pandemic. Today, hundreds of thousands of people remain without work or are underemployed. According to some counts, as many as 155,000 people entered the circle of poverty due to the pandemic.

For many of them, Leket Israel – the National Food Bank – is what sustains them. Please help.

Leket rescues surplus food from venues such as hotels and corporate cafeterias that would otherwise be discarded and provides it to those in need. This past year, it distributed 18.5 thousand tons of fresh fruit and vegetables
This Rosh Hashanah and Sukkot, Leket is asking for people to help them with their mission – to donate a meal so that Israelis in need can enjoy a hot, nutritious meal on the holidays.
The food will go to people like Russian immigrant Alexandra Soborov, who was a professor in the former Soviet Union but has fallen into poverty in Israel. 
“Here in Israel, my husband became depressed and he did not want to work – he didn’t want to do anything,” Soborov said. “It demanded considerable physical and emotional strength from me.
“I worked in the mornings as a cleaner. In the afternoon, I cleaned homes in Tel Aviv. And in the evening, I went to care for an elderly  woman,” she explained. “It was very difficult, but I am strong. You cannot break me.”
But she still could not manage to feed her family. 
“Everything in Israel is expensive,” she said. “So what we receive from Leket is very important.”
Soborov slid a tray of eggplant slices into the oven. Her eyes teared in expectation of eating them. She said she is so grateful for Leket, who gave them to her.  
“It makes me very emotional to know that someone is thinking of us, that someone wants to help us, that they care,” Soborov said. “It warms the heart.”
Leket was founded by an American oleh from New York, Joseph Gitler, who came to Israel from New York in 2000. When he arrived in the Start-Up Nation, he was surprised to learn of the economic gaps that exist in Israeli society. Although Israel is an affluent country  with a thriving hi-tech arena, poverty in Israel is a significant issue.
In 2003, Gitler established Table to Table to help solve Israel’s food insecurity crisis. That organization became Leket Israel in 2010, and today the organization is Israel’s largest food distribution network.
Leket Israel, unlike most other food banks, focuses on salvaging fresh food that would otherwise go to waste.
For perspective, even before the COVID crisis, Israel wasted an estimated 2.5 million tons of food, valued at NIS 20.3 billion ($6 billion), according to the most recent Leket Israel and BDO Food Waste and Rescue Report. This means that approximately 35% of domestic food production was lost. The report showed that approximately 1.2 million tons worth NIS 7.1 billion ($2.1 billion) was rescuable. 
Currently, Leket provides close to 250,000 people weekly across Israel with produce and/or cooked food. Moreover, it increased its rescue and redistribution of fruit and vegetables specifically by 50%.
The organization is supported by 15,000 annual volunteers, including some very special ones, like chef extraordinaire Jamie Geller.
Geller moved to Israel nine years ago and immediately started volunteering for the organization. 
“I went to one of their food collection centers and I was so impressed,” Geller said. 
Since then, she has lent a hand many times. This Rosh Hashanah, she is helping to promote Leket’s campaign, reminding people that the money they are giving is not just a donation but an act of empathy, kindness, compassion and good will. 
“With Leket, it is not just about feeding those in need, but addressing the issue of food security,” Geller said. “Giving is what makes the world go around.”
“We are delighted to partner with Jamie Geller, Adeena Sussman and other well known Israeli chefs to promote the importance of providing a Giving Meal this Rosh Hashanah,” said Joseph Gitler. “With such a drastic increase in the demand for food over the past year and a half, Leket strives to provide fresh meals and agricultural produce to the growing needy population.”
Much of the budget is funded by generous donations from around the world. Gifts to Leket Israel are tax deductible in Israel, the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia and France.
“I got to a place where I didn’t have money so I went for a few days without eating anything at all,” said Natalia, an opera singer from Tel Aviv. “Leket Israel reached out with support and beautiful fresh fruit and vegetables. It made me feel like I wasn’t alone.”
Your support will provide quality, rescued food to the needy of Israel  for the holidays. Please give.

This article was written in cooperation with Leket Israel.

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Co-Host for Coffee Mouth Scarecrow Show. Retired NAVY Chief/Flag Writer Psalms 118:24 This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.

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