On December 16, 2014, The National Insurance Institute released its 2013 annual poverty report revealing that more than 1.65 million Israeli citizens, including one out of three children, live below the poverty line.
According to the report, 432,600 Israeli households live below the poverty line, or a total of 1,658,200 people. This number represents 21% of Israel’s population of 8 million. The poverty rate among Israel’s elderly population is 22%.
The country’s poor includes 756,900 children, or 31% of minors in Israel.
The percentage of children in poverty dropped slightly as compared to 2012, but the NII said the report does not fully portray the effects of the government cutback in child allowances put into place later in the year.
An alternate report, released by the non-profit organization Latet, paints an even darker picture. Their study determined that 2,546,000 Israelis live below the poverty line – including 932,000 children. The report also shows a 14% increase in the number of elderly receiving assistance. According to Latet, over 70% of people receiving assistance live with nutritional shortages, with 10% saying they have resorted to scavenging for food in trash cans.
Former Israeli President Shimon Peres stated “It is the responsibility of all the political factions to put the fight against poverty at the top of the agenda. The hungry children and elderly cannot be fed with media statements.”
How does Meir Panim fight the battle against poverty in Israel?
- 387,600 hot, nourishing meals are served annually through Meir Panim’s network of free restaurants.
- 101,980 hot lunches are distributed annually to needy children throughout the country.
- 166,800 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.
- Meir Panim’s Israel Nutrition Center will be the largest food production facility in Israel, distributing up to 30,000 meals daily.