According to the report, 439,500 Israeli households live below the poverty line, or a total of 1,754,700 people. This number represents 22% of Israel’s population of 8 million, a drop of 0.5% from the previous year.
The country’s poor includes 817,200 children, or 33% of minors in Israel, and 180,000 elderly citizens, representing 23% of the elderly population.
The percentage of children in poverty dropped slightly as compared to 2011, but the number of elderly poor increased by 3%, due in part to an increase in the cost of living and changes in government pensions for the elderly.
A related report, presented December 16 at the National Conference of Charities, found that nearly half of the children in families supported by social welfare bodies in Israel have gone a full day without eating. In addition, some 70% of the people who receive assistance live without basic nutritional security and lack food.
Welfare and Social Services Minister Meir Cohen stated “the responsibility to address poverty should fall on the government, not on the charities. The government should be at the front and the charities providing back up – and not the other way around.”
Israeli President Shimon Peres tweeted “the fact that there are 800,000 hungry children in Israel is disturbing. If there are poor among us, it reflects on us as a society.”
How does Meir Panim fight the battle against poverty in Israel?
- 350,000 hot, nourishing meals are served annually through Meir Panim’s network of free restaurants.
- 100,000 hot lunches are distributed annually to needy children throughout the country.
- 190,000 Meals-On-Wheels are delivered annually to the homebound, disabled and elderly.
- Prepaid food shopping cards are distributed to struggling families and Holocaust survivors each month and before holidays.
- 200 chickens are distributed each week to needy families through Meir Panim’s “A Chicken for Shabbat” program.
- More than 300 children-at-risk attend Meir Panim after-school youth clubs, and 1,000 disadvantaged children attended Meir Panim day camps this past summer.
- Meir Panim’s Israel Nutrition Center will be the largest food production facility in Israel, distributing up to 30,000 meals daily.