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Only 7% of Israelis want to receive food from a food distribution center and Only 1% are happy to go to soup kitchen!

4/14/2011

GJARN has been active in Israel since 2000 working to find a solution to the growing number of Israeli families living below poverty, and with one third of Israeli children going to sleep hungry and/or malnourished.

From the very onset, we felt that Soup Kitchens were unbecoming for Israeli society and had more of a place in third world countries or in the Former Soviet Union. In fact, GJARN established the largest network or free soup kitchens in the FSU from 1992 and until this very day.

So when we first came to Israel back in 2000, we spent well over a years time meeting with more than 300 of the larger and more prominent social service agencies. At the conclusion of our research, we felt that what Israel was missing, was a centralized FOOD BANK such as Second Harvest as in the United States.

As such, we set out to create Israel's first National Food Bank, known then in Israel as Bank Mazon. We were making headway, but there were numerous obstacles in our path. Israel did not have laws in place allowing food donations to be considered a tax deductible donation and it also did not have laws protecting donors such as the Good Samaritan Law or the Bill Emerson Food Act. We lobbied and did everything within our power to change that, but with little results.

With time, we realized that the FOOD BANK concept does not necessarily work in Israel as each family prefers a different and particular Kashruth agency, their is a large logistics cost involved in the collection, warehousing, and distribution to food pantries and soup kitchens, etc.

But most importantly, we were convinced more than ever before, that offering people to come and eat in public soup kitchens was simply not the right thing to do.

As such we created the project, "A Full Plate", more recently known as the "FOOD CARD". This Food Card revolves around a simple pre-paid food debit card which allows needy Israeli families to shop in dignity and for the foods and Kashruth of their choice.

From the day we conceived this project, we knew this was exactly what Israel needs and what the needy families prefer. In the calls and thank you letters we receive daily in our office, this is what we are constantly being told. Yet, there was never any official research done on it.

How heartwarming it was then to receive a report yesterday from YEDID - The Association for Community Empowerment in Israel which recently conducted a full study and just yesterday released their findings. (see http://yedid.org.il/?id=4236 ).

Of 680 families in Israel which receive public and private assistance who were interviewed:

92% would prefer the FOOD CARD rather than go to a food distribution center where they are seen by the public and in front of TV cameras, or to go to a Soup Kitchen

30% would prefer to receive ready made foods as they are too old or frail to shop and/or cook on their own

7% don't mind going to a food distribution center

1% are comfortable going to a soup kitchen

What more can we say? What more can we do?

All that is needed is to get the message out and for more non profits, associations, Federations, and private donors to switch over to the FOOD CARD.

It is cheaper, more transparent, more dignified, and what the people actually prefer?

 

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