Packing boxes of food for Passover (Hadas Parush / Flash90) (Hadas Parush / Flash90)

Farmers and municipalities are teaming up with nonprofits to feed struggling Israelis during the corona crisis.

By Tsivya Fox-Dobuler

With many Israelis losing their livelihoods due to coronavirus lockdown and business closures, farmers are joining forces with charities and municipalities to ensure citizens receive nutritious food on a regular basis.

“We are experiencing unprecedented generosity from all sectors in Israel to successfully surpass the challenges coronavirus has brought on the citizens of Israel,” Joseph Gilter, Founder and Chairman of the NGO Leket Israel, the leading food rescue organization in Israel, told United with Israel. “Everything is turned upside down and people are stepping up and uniting to meet the challenges.”

Leket normally provides 175,000 people a week with food by collecting and redistributing fresh, high-quality food from farms, hotels, military bases and catering halls. However, due to coronavirus restrictions, the need from those in the private sector to receive food has increased exponentially. This has forced the government, municipalities, charities and farmers to restructure in order to streamline food distribution.

“Farmers who normally grow food for hotels and restaurants are donating their very high-quality produce to help citizens of Israel,” Gilter said. “We have received over the past two-weeks 500 tons (about 1 million pounds) of fruits and vegetables above what we normally get.”

With the increase in need as well as supplies, 12 municipalities around the country have taken over distribution of the food on behalf of Leket and more are being arranged. Prior to the crisis, Leket gave food directly to charities, which distributed the food. Now, municipalities are responsible for distributing the food, as they are directly handling requests from those in need. Large packing and distribution centers were set up and preparations were made for packing thousands of food packages, including for next week’s Passover holiday.

Due to its technical knowledge and experience in collecting and distributing food, Leket is a key player during the corona crisis providing assistance to the farmers and municipalities to ensure this massive undertaking runs as smoothly and efficiently as possible.

“Israel is used to crisis and now the whole world is in a crisis,” Gilter said. “Everyone is suffering. Yet, we have seen a fantastic increase of support for our efforts, not only worldwide but from inside Israel. As much as we are giving we are getting. It is very heartwarming the way people are responding and it’s so nice to see.”

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