Two million Israelis suffer from food insecurity and lack access to an adequate amount of nutritious food, according to a report released Wednesday by Israel’s largest non-governmental organization against poverty.
The Latet NGO report shows that 633,000 families in Israel do not have enough resources to meet their daily needs. Of the two million people who need adequate food, 774,000 are children, or a third of Israel’s children.
Miri Rofe, 37, a mother of four from Holon, is one of those people who experiences food insecurity, and for her, wanting healthy, regular food has become a daily battle for survival.
“Sometimes I don’t have food to give to my children and I can’t stand that, as a mother, I don’t have the ability to give them what they need,” she said.
One of her daughters is on the autism spectrum and another suffers from a serious eating disorder. Miri herself suffers from physical and mental disabilities due to two accidents she has had. “I find myself running with my daughters from one treatment to another and as a result, no job is willing to keep me going, even part-time,” Miri said.
When he tried to contact the Ministry of Welfare and Social Affairs, he was left unanswered. “I’m in a struggle for existence, and I’ve gotten to the point where I have to decide what to pay for rent, food, or taxes? I feel like I’m left alone and abandoned.”
Since the onset of the COVID pandemic, hundreds of thousands of families in Israel have been financially affected, and Miri is just one of others in the same situation.
And while many Israelis even pay for food, the government has only earmarked NIS 100 million to tackle the issue after years of budget neglect, which at the moment seems to be just a drop in the ocean.
A report from the Knesset Research and Information Center released last month said that by the end of 2020 only 200,000 families were suffering from food shortages, which is actually three times lower than the actual figure. Therefore, when the figures are so misleading, many families are left in trouble without state aid.
Latet CEO Eran Weintrob says the emergence of COVID-19 and the ensuing economic crisis exacerbated the distress of low-income families, who suffered even before the pandemic.
“Although the government allocated NIS 100 million, the amount needed to resolve this situation is about NIS 1 billion.”