Southern Israel’s Needy Face Food Shortage as Rockets Rain on South
As Gaza rockets continue to strike southern Israel, the region’s lower-socioeconomic sectors are suffering even more with the current conditions.
According to Israel’s National Food Bank, the country’s main food rescue network known as Leket Israel, the situation of southern Israel’s needy has become worse since the war began, with requests for food packages from the south flooding the country’s largest food bank.
There are a number of factors contributing to this situation. Many people are unable to go out and buy food because they remain in shelters for much of the day. Israel’s Home Front Command has ordered most soup kitchens in Be’er Sheva, for example, to close their doors due to lack of shelters and protected areas.
“The needs are changing daily and Leket Israel is staying in close communication with our nonprofit partners in the South in order to see how we can meet their growing needs,” stated Joseph Gitler, founder and chairman of Leket Israel. “In addition to serving their regular clientele, Leket’s nonprofit partners are seeing an increase in demand and individuals coming to them seeking help.”
Dozens of Leket volunteers packed hundreds of packages for residents in the south this week, which were distributed to non-governmental organizations in Ashdod, Ashkelon, Sderot and Netviot. Another 1,800 food parcels will be delivered by Leket Israel in the coming days.
Seeing an increase in 30 percent of food distribution, Leket Israel has sent truckloads of goods to the southern region of Israel since Operation Protective Edge began. Last week, Leket provided 80,000 rolls of bread and 3,000 loaves of challah to the needy in Ofakim, Netivot and Beer Sheva. The food bank in Israel also provided 19,000 bags of chocolate milk to IDF soldiers stationed in the south.
Leket pointed out it is continuing to provide its regular steady supply of milk products and produce that it normally distributes to its nonprofit partners in addition to the food packages and other products being given to the south.
In addition, Leket conducted a recent survey among its 11 nonprofit partners in southern Israel to find out the immediate needs of residents in region. The results revealed that there is a greater need for cereal, snacks, canned goods, and other non-perishable items that do not require a great deal of preparation so that children have what to eat in shelters.
Founded in 2003 and headquartered in Ra’anana, Leket Israel works to alleviate the problem of nutritional insecurity among Israel’s population, which has approximately 1.9 million people living in poverty including 850,000 hungry children. Throughout the year, 50,000 Leket volunteers and staff collect food and products that would have otherwise gone to waste from farms, supermarkets, catering halls, hotels and other sources to give to Israel’s impoverished.