Helping the Hungry before, during
and after Covid-19
Dear KOL Israel Bonds readers,
On behalf of my colleagues at Leket, we thank and salute our friends at Israel Bonds for providing an opportunity for you to learn more about our remarkable work in Israel.
As we all deal with the challenging impact COVID-19 is having across the Globe, we hope you take heart in knowing that Leket Israel is “knocking it out of the park” in an effort to provide as many Israelis as possible with food relief.
Joy Wagner Arbus
Executive Director, Leket Canada
Leket Israel, which describes its mission as leading ‘the safe, effective and efficient collection and distribution of surplus nutritious food in Israel, to those who need it,’ is the leading food rescue organization in Israel.
“It's a blessing from heaven. It's excellent food, it's prepared and it's served to us. There is a variety of food and from a social perspective, it's wonderful.”
- Leket Israel food recipient
Unique among organizations that serve the poor in Israel and food banks worldwide, Leket Israel’s sole focus is rescuing healthy, surplus food and delivering it to those in need through partner non-profit organizations.
Often called the ‘table to table’ model, Leket was founded in 2003 by Joseph Gitler, after he had witnessed significant food wastage in Israel at a time of rising poverty. Gitler started rescuing meals from catering halls and corporate cafeterias out of his car. Initially, meals were stored in refrigerators lining his driveway before being delivered to local non-profit organizations serving the needy.
Now, with 105 employees and over 37,000 volunteers, they are currently the largest food bank in Israel, and have been a leader and an expert in food rescue nationwide. Leket works with 200 non-profit organizations throughout the country to provide nutritious food to over 175,000 Israelis weekly, regardless of age, gender, religion, or ethnic background.
Recipients include homeless shelters, soup kitchens, elderly centers, battered women’s centers, community help organizations, and schools for at-risk youth.
In his recent blog for the Times of Israel1, Gitler wrote: “There was a surge in need when the pandemic began. Leket changed gears, and fast. ”Since the Covid Crisis began, Leket has provided over 750,000 meals to Israelis in need. These days, Leket’s rescue activity focuses on both the catering and agricultural sectors.
“When coronavirus started to turn our lives upside down, I didn’t know how we would manage. Then, to make the challenge harder, demand skyrocketed. People everywhere were registering themselves unemployed. Parents who were just about succeeding in putting food on the table were suddenly unable to do so.”
“The effects of this crisis are far from over. In fact, for many Israelis who have lost work and don’t have prospects for a return, or elderly people who are still isolating, it may just be the start. But we’ve shown ourselves as a nation where there are many who will step up to protect each other, and for this, I’m immensely proud.”
1Inside story: 'Normal Israelis averted COVID hunger crisis; pride for nation.
Times of Israel, By Joseph Gitler – May 22, 2020).
Photos: Leket Israel