Israeli Ministers Unveil $66 Million Plan to Feed the Hungry

'Our duty is to make sure no child in Israel is hungry,' says Yair Lapid about the new plan that will have tens of thousands qualify for care packages.

Shirly Seidler
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Shirly Seidler

Yesh Atid ministers presented Tuesday their plan to improve food security programs in Israel. The proposal would add 75,000 students, as well as thousands of elders with special needs to the plan, which carries a price tag of 230 million shekels ($66 million).

The plan would provide 126,000 care packages to needy individuals, among them thousands of students in the Eshkol Regional Council, as well as food assistance to 24,000 families, warm meals to 12,000 Holocaust survivors, and roughly 8000 more meals to elderly individuals with special needs.

The plan was presented at a Be’er Sheva press conference by Finance Minister Yair Lapid, Social Affairs Minister Meir Cohen, Health Minister Yael German, and Education Minister Shay Piron, in an effort to exhibit cross-ministry collaboration in the plan.

“Our duty is to make sure that there is not even one hungry child in Israel,” Lapid said. “We aren’t there, but we’ll find the resources to make that happen.”

Social Affairs Minister Meir Cohen said it’s better to have a good program in place than to provide cash subsidies.

“It was possible to distribute another 100 or 200 shekels to each family but I came from a needy family, and I know that wouldn’t help,” he said. “When you take that money and put it in the right places, a nutrition program like this makes for real changes.”

Cohen also said that thousands of Bedouin children will be added to the new plan.

“Many Bedouin children who were not thought of in the past were added – today, we’re thinking of them. There are dozens of towns that couldn’t not pay for their participation in the nutrition program, and now, we’re helping them too.”

The Social Affairs Ministry added another 60 million shekels ($17.1 million) worth of aid and support to families in crisis, and another 30 million shekels ($8.5 million) in monthly food stamps as well.

Yosef Cohen, director of Chasdei Naomi, a charity that helps feed the hungry, believes that the new plan is not enough to combat hunger in Israel.

“I invite the ministers to spend one day on our trucks, and see the tens of thousands of children throughout Israel who wait for our weekly food deliveries, so they can truly understand that a state of national emergency must be declared.”

Yair Lapid, Shai Piron, January 28, 2013.Credit: Ilan Assayag

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