The United Nations 2017 “State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World” report ranked Israel as 19th in food security among more than 180 countries. The charity organization Meir Panim, finding this reality unacceptable, launched an urgent crowdfunding campaign in response in order to feed as many hungry Israelis as possible and found amazing success.
“Meir Panim takes a holistic approach to helping impoverished Israelis,” said Goldie Sternbuch, Director of Overseas Relations for Meir Panim. “Though we provide vocational training, parenting courses, and after-school programs for teens from dysfunctional backgrounds, our number one priority is feeding the hungry.”
Meir Panim’s crowdfunding campaign was launched on September 11 with the goal of raising $140,000 in order to provide 40,000 meals from their five restaurant-style soup kitchens found throughout Israel. With a dollar-for-dollar anonymous donor matching funds, the organization reached its goal in record time.
Therefore, a bonus round was created, raising the goal to $250,000. The final sum raised was over $262,000.
“People need to eat a nutritious meal every day,” continued Sternbuch. “These funds will provide hundreds of thousands of meals and a bit of food security to those whose lives feel very insecure each and every day. We cannot thank our generous supporters enough for making this campaign so successful.”
Meir Panim is able to serve thousands of fresh, delicious meals every day at a significantly discounted cost due to its network of dedicated volunteers and those that donate surplus food to the well-known organization. Crates of fresh fruits and vegetables are delivered daily and many of the volunteers are regulars.
For example, Ellen Tilles is a daily fixture at Meir Panim’s Jerusalem branch. Tilles knows most of Meir Panim’s regular patrons and their own personal food preferences. “Meir Panim’s soup kitchens provide patrons with a bit of dignity along with a lot of love and care,” she said. “For some, not only is this their only meal of the day, but it is also the only place they have to be treated like human beings.”
The “State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World” report defines “food security” as “the viability and accessibility of food for people in a given country and the nation’s ability to prevent hunger on a mass scale”. Israel is reported to have 1.7 million citizens living under the poverty line. Two out of five children go to sleep hungry and one out of five senior citizens choose between medicine or a meal.
“Most people can play a role to ensure that Israel’s impoverished citizens have food to eat,” continued Sternbuch. “Israel is a wonderful country that has made tremendous advancements over its short seven decades of existence. But, we still need to meet the UN’s goal of eradicating world hunger by 2030. At the very least we can try to accomplish this for Israel.”