Leket CEO: NIS 8b. worth of food wasted an­nu­ally

The Jerusalem Post - - NEWS - • By SARAH LEVI

Gidi Kroch, the CEO of Leket – The Na­tional Food Bank, wants the state to get in­volved in food res­cue.

De­spite suc­cess­fully res­cu­ing thou­sands of tons of food over the span of his NGO’s 14-year ex­is­tence, he is trou­bled that it is only able to res­cue about 3% of what is be­ing dis­carded an­nu­ally.

Speak­ing to The Jerusalem Post on Thurs­day, he ex­plained that this num­ber can eas­ily be in­creased if the gov­ern­ment funds food res­cue.

Kroch pre­sented ad­di­tional fig­ures con­cern­ing food res­cue and waste: “NIS 19 bil­lion worth of [dis­carded] food is res­cuable, and half of it is con­sum­able and it’s be­ing thrown away.

We are talk­ing about NIS 8b. worth of food per year be­ing wasted and there is no in­no­va­tion to try to sal­vage it.”

Kroch called upon the gov­ern­ment to cham­pion food res­cue: “We are throw­ing away good food peo­ple can eat and no­body is do­ing any­thing to fix it.”

He told the Post that he has had meet­ings with gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials in the past and they keep telling them that they don’t have enough money.

“If the gov­ern­ment in­vested just NIS 3b. to­ward food res­cue, there would be no hunger prob­lem. But we are only ask­ing for NIS 1b. to han­dle food in­se­cu­rity for Is­rael.”

He said he has yet to find a Knes­set mem­ber or a min­is­ter who is will­ing to work with Leket in or­der to put more fund­ing into food res­cue.

“In or­der to res­cue more food, we need a lot of gov­ern­ment fi­nanc­ing, so the gov­ern­ment needs to re­al­ize there is a need for it [food res­cue],” he said.

For last month’s an­nual World Food Day, which takes place on Oc­to­ber 16 and is marked by or­ga­ni­za­tions deal­ing with food se­cu­rity and world hunger.

Leket re­leased a study that it com­mis­sioned from Lex­i­dale In­ter­nal Pol­icy Con­sult­ing that does com­par­a­tive re­search into food res­cue and loss re­duc­tion.

The re­port com­pared Is­rael to seven places in the de­vel­oped world (Canada, United States, United King­dom, Ger­many, Nor­way, Sin­ga­pore and the Euro­pean Union) with a fo­cus on gov­ern­ment in­volve­ment in food res­cue and dis­tri­bu­tion.

Is­rael ranked the low­est in ev­ery cat­e­gory, which in­cluded ded­i­cated leg­is­la­tion, tai­lor-made reg­u­la­tions, pub­lic aware­ness cam­paigns, large scale re­search and sub­si­dies, bids and com­pe­ti­tions.

He ex­plained that Is­rael is on the lower end of the food res­cue spec­trum on a global level but ranks the high­est in cost of liv­ing.

Kroch be­lieves Is­raeli in­no­va­tion and gov­ern­ment fund­ing are the keys to res­cu­ing food.

He takes in­spi­ra­tion from the food stamp pro­gram in the United States and be­lieves it can work here too. “In the States, they are us­ing their food stamp pro­gram to res­cue food and to chan­nel it to food banks.

There’s a lot of talk in the world about food banks and nu­tri­tion, but not in Is­rael.

We need leg­is­la­tion to bring this pro­gram here to Is­rael.”

He sees this re­port as the first step to bring­ing gov­ern­ment at­ten­tion to food res­cue, but added that the ef­forts have re­mained fruit­less.

“We are work­ing with other NGOs all the time [to get gov­ern­ment help], and in the end we get stonewalled be­cause no­body is will­ing to cham­pion this cause. If we find a cham­pion, this will be an im­por­tant first step.”

Kroch sees the dozens of char­i­ta­ble or­ga­ni­za­tions pro­vid­ing meals to peo­ple in need lo­cally as an ob­sta­cle to the state fund­ing food res­cue.

“The fab­ric of the com­mu­nity is serv­ing the peo­ple, but that puts a lot of strain on us who deal with 175 mil­lion tons of res­cued food.”

He added, “The gov­ern­ment isn’t pro­vid­ing any so­lu­tions be­cause it sees the peo­ple tak­ing care of them­selves. But it is not see­ing the full pic­ture. If peo­ple riot as they did in 2011 [dur­ing the so­cial jus­tice move­ment], then maybe it [the gov­ern­ment] will start a com­mit­tee.

But why wait for ri­ots? There are no ri­ots in the streets, so the gov­ern­ment doesn’t care.”

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