Israel’s latest National Insurance Institute (NII) poverty report found that 14 percent of Jews living in the Holy Land are poor while more than half of Arabs fall below the poverty line. However, following several years of doomsday statistics, this year’s report does show a slight improvement in the rates of poverty among Israeli children, the elderly, one-parent families and the ultra-Orthodox Jewish population.
“Though this year’s poverty report shows some dim lights at the end of the tunnel, poverty levels in the Holy Land remains painfully high for millions of people,” shared Goldie Sternbuch, Director of Overseas Relations for Meir Panim. “Unfortunately, the numbers remain staggering.”
Findings from this study are that in 2015:
-460,800 Israeli families are poor
-1,712,900 citizens live below the poverty line
-764,200 children do not have their basic needs met due to poverty (this is a 0.3 percent drop from last year)
A poor person in Israel is defined as one person living on a monthly income of less than NIS 3,158 ($823). A family of four is considered poor if they have less than NIS 8,086 ($2,107) a month to live on and a family of eight is considered poor if they have less than NIS 13,139 ($3,423) a month to live on.
“These statistics mean that half of the working poor give up vital care, such as dental treatments, in favor of basic necessities, a large proportion of Israel’s population do not have enough funds to eat balanced meals throughout the year, and the main meal for many children consists of bread with a spread or simple carbohydrates,” continued Sterbuch. “Meir Panim helps many of our clientele to acquire adequate school supplies and books for their children as these expenses are above whatever funds they have.”
Recognizing that food security is an urgent matter which must be tackled head on, the office of Haim Katz, the Minister of Welfare and Social Services, stated, “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.”
It is estimated that 63 percent of people receiving aid from charities are actually working poor or are not at a working age. Israel’s minimum monthly wage is due to rise in January to NIS 5,000 ($1,303) which is hoped to ease some of the struggles of the working poor.
“We must face the reality that millions 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.