Some 2.627 million Israelis live in poverty, the recently released 2022 Alternative Poverty Report by NGO Latet showed. The number represents almost 28% of the country’s population.
These figures show an increase from the previous year when there were 2.54 million impoverished Israelis.
Of those who experience poverty, almost 1.2 million are children, representing 38% of all children in Israel.
“The State of Israel has lagged far behind OECD countries in poverty and inequality for years,” Acting Director General of National Insurance Institute, Yarona Shalom recently said. “In order to address disparities in society, there is a need to increase benefits, to provide tools and support to families and individuals who are in the labor market but whose wages are low, with a focus on the periphery.”
A recent report by the National Insurance Institute also found that over 550,000 families experienced food insecurity in 2021, with half of them suffering from severe food insecurity.
“Over half a million families in Israel live in food insecurity, this is a shocking and painful statistic that must be dealt with urgently,” said Israeli Labor Minister and Rabbi Yoav Ben Tzur: “We see the disadvantaged populations in society, in the periphery and in cities, collapsing under the heavy burden of the cost of living and giving up basic meals out of severe economic distress.”
“As every day, hundreds of thousands of children in Israel go to educational institutions without a good lunch, and this is a sad situation that upsets me,” he added.
As governmental institutions fail to adequately tackle the issue of poverty, social organizations like Meir Panim continue to step up their efforts.
Meir Panim is one of Israel’s largest nonprofits addressing the issue of food security.
The organization runs five Restaurant-Style Soup Kitchens in Tzfat, Jerusalem, Tiberias, Or Akiva and Dimona.
In addition, Meir Panim provides food shopping cards, delivers meals to those who do not have the ability to visit their facilities and runs special programs for Holocaust survivors and youth from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Overall, Meir Panim offers roughly one million meals per year.
Like many other social organizations, Meir Panim is experiencing challenges, as the number of people falling below the poverty line increases, while the cost of living skyrockets.
In 2022, inflation in Israel stood at 5.3%, the highest since 2008.
Since March 2020, the organization has seen a sharp increase in demand, with two to three times more people reaching out for support. This has added around $100,000 a month in extra cost to keep up both demand and raising food prices.
For Meir Panim though, the goal remains clear: helping as many as possible, while treating those who are in need with respect and dignity.
Help feed Israel’s hungry and donate to Meir Panim now.
This article was written in cooperation with Meir Panim.