Leket Israel’s Agricultural Gleaning Department is the only one of its kind worldwide.
This department rescues thousands of tons of nutritious and high quality produce slated for destruction or wasted along the food chain. There are numerous economic variables that lead to unwanted waste such as: supply and demand, aesthetic flaws, and market price elasticity.
In order to rescue this agricultural produce, Leket follows an operational model which focuses on continuous and close communication with farmers and packing houses all over the country, gathering information about crops that are unmarketable, and sending volunteers and Leket employees to pick these crops. All of this is done in an effort to rescue fresh, varied and nutritious fruits and vegetables, and to transport it to Leket Israel’s partner NPOs for distribution to 175,000 of Israel’s needy each week.
In 2018, Leket Israel rescued more than 15,000 tons of agricultural produce, donated by 500 farmers and packing houses throughout Israel, amounting to 87% of the food donations collected by Leket Israel that year.
The Self Growing Farm
As a rescue operation, Leket Israel cannot provide a consistent and predictable flow of specific fruits and vegetables. For that reason, Leket has initiated the Self Growing Farm which allows the organization to grow specific crops. This way, the populations in need can receive regular, quality and varied types of agricultural produce all year round.
As part of its ongoing activity, Leket offers unique hands on volunteer programs to harvest agricultural produce. This takes place on Moshav Nahalal (northern Israel), Binyamina (central Israel), and HaTov VeHametiv (central Israel). This allows Leket’s volunteers the opportunity to partake in providing for the needy while also raising awareness of Leket Israel’s actives.
In 2018, the Self Growing Farm resulted in 3.3 million lbs. of produce, which amounted to 14% of the agricultural produce transported to needy populations through Leket Israel’s partner NPO’s.
The Operational Model
The Call Center: ongoing communication with farmers all over Israel
Leket Israel’s call center is aimed at maintaining and expanding relationships with farmers and packing houses throughout Israel.
The Call Center, manned by Leket’s staff members and a supervisor, works in several different ways: introduces farmers to Leket’s work, gathers information about unmarketable produce and encourages farmers to donate food rather than let it go to waste. The Call Center also handles calls from farmers and organizations interested in donating their excess produce.
This information is then passed along the field coordinators to assess its viability for use.
Field Coordinators: professional management for harvesting fields and orchards
Leket’s field coordinators are responsible for the professional management of picking in fields and orchards; each one responsible for a designated geographic region. The field coordinators follow up with farmers who have been in contact with the Call Center, cultivate new relationships and develop partnerships with them in order to recruit them as food donors.
Additionally, the field coordinators manage and supervise the harvesting of produce, and the collection of the picked produce. The picking and harvesting is carried out by professional pickers employed by Leket Israel. In time of need, the department also employs pickers through external contractors.
Produce Transport: From the fields to Leket Israel’s Logistics Center
Produce picked and harvested from fields and orchards is transported by Leket’s trucks to the organization’s Logistics Center in Ra’anana. With the help of the NPO Relations Department, the produce is delivered from the Leket logistics centers to hundreds of NPOs which in turn, distribute it to needy populations all over Israel.