Meir Panim Update
As Israel Waits for Official End-of-Year Poverty Report, NGO Publishes Shocking Alternative Report
December 14, 2016

Findings from a recent survey by the NGO Latet organization is shocking the Israeli nation. Poverty levels in the Holy Land remains painfully high for millions of people.

“While this study is named an “alternative report” as it is not published by a government body, it is nevertheless considered highly accurate and reflective of the real situation in the Holy Land,” shared Goldie Sternbuch, Director of Overseas Relations for Meir Panim. “Though the report shows a marginal decline in poverty from 2015, the numbers remain staggering.”

The survey found that:

  • 1,024,000 children (35 percent of all Israeli children) live below the poverty line. This is up from 998,000 last year.
  • 29 percent of the entire population (2,436,000 people) live below the poverty line. This is slightly down from 2,624,000 people last year.
  • 36 percent of single mothers live in poverty. 87 percent of these women are working poor. Half of them report that they had to give up vital care, such as dental care, in favor of basic necessities.
  • 20.4 percent of the population said that they did not have enough funds to eat balanced meals throughout the year.
  • The number of people depending on charity has increased. 63 percent of those asking for assistance are working poor. This statistic is up by 11 percent from last year.
  • 68 percent of children who receive charity report that their main sustenance consists of  27 percent bread with a spread and 41 percent eat mostly simple carbohydrates. This is up by 10 percent from last year.
  • 54 percent of children report that they do not have money for adequate school supplies and books. This is up by 11 percent from last year.
  • 70 percent of people depending on charity report that they do not have funds to make any necessary home repairs (35 percent of the general general population report the same challenge).

“We must face the reality that nearly a third of Israelis are poor and lack commodities to maintain a basic lifestyle,” continued Sternbuch. “Every day, we at Meir Panim experience the gratitude of our patrons as they receive a fresh, nourishing meal, electric heaters during Israel’s cold winter months, school supplies for poor children and care with dignity.” In fact, 54 percent of families receiving aid could not supply their children with basic school supplies.

The office of Haim Katz, the Minister of Welfare and Social Services, responded to the report by citing that approximately NIS 224 million has been earmarked for food security in the Holy Land. In a statement, the Ministry’s office said, “As part of the effort to eradicate the shameful phenomenon of queues for food, in the coming weeks we will provide a national food security project which will be given in its first stage to 10,400 families which will receive monthly cards of NIS 375 ($100) that can be used in supermarket chains.”

The last published National Insurance Institute official report for the 2014 year as compared to the Latet survey shows a stark deterioration of the situation in Israel. In fact, 63 percent of people receiving aid from charities are actually working poor or are not at a working age. This shows an increase of 11 percent of people in this category when compared with the previous year’s report.  

The official “Report of Poverty and Social Gaps” from the National Insurance Institute is expected to be published later this month.

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