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Annual Report 2021

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Dear Friends,

On behalf of Leket Israel’s staff and volunteers, thank you for your support of our food rescue activities providing basic sustenance to Israelis at risk. We are delighted to present you with an overview of our 2021 activities.

Overview

Although Israel’s economy is demonstrating encouraging signs of recovery, the effects of the pandemic remain significant. Tens of thousands of small businesses that declared bankruptcy over the past two years will not reopen and many of those returning to work have exhausted their savings and accumulated significant debt. This coupled with the rise in mental illness and family breakdown, a consequence of the lockdowns, has led to an increase in need. Leket’s recent survey of its nonprofit (NPO) partners, found demand on them to be 42% above pre-pandemic levels.

Leket’s confidence in its ability to sustain growth, together with its financial liquidity and improved food donor maintenance, led to a 30% increase in quantitative output for the year (26,020 tons total). The food was distributed to 250 NPOs serving Israelis of all backgrounds in more than 100 towns and cities. The organization’s budget for 2021 was NIS 75 million ($22.73 Million).

  Highlights for 2021 include:

  • The rescue of 25,000 tons (55.13 million lbs.) of fresh produce from the farming sector
  • The rescue of 1.4 million meals from the catering sector and the IDF
  • The purchase of 320,000 million meals from industrial caterers
  • The preparation for the elderly of 46,000 liters (92,000 pints) of frozen soup using excess vegetables
  • Partnership with the Wingate Institute to study the effects of regular physical exercise and a healthy diet on a child’s wellbeing and functioning
  • Guidance on food rescue of senior Singapore government officials

Project Leket

During 2021, 25,000 tons (55.13 million lbs.) of more than 60 types of produce were rescued from 595 farms and packing houses. This reflects a 35% increase in tonnage for the year and a 26% increase in participating farmers.

 

Based on McKinsey & Company’s pro bono assessment and recommendations, Project Leket intensified its farmer recruitment and retention efforts, expanding its in-house farmer call center, while adding two coordinators to recruit farmers face to face in the field. The generation of more rescue opportunities was serviced by the 2020 move to a 6,500 square meter (70,000 square feet) Logistics Center, enabling the organization to refrigerate large quantities of produce in a short period of time with no prior warning.  (A crucial deciding factor for large packing houses looking for a one-stop solution for their excess).

Cultivation of Vegetables

As the economy reopened, the organization renewed its self-growing initiative in Rishon LeZion, cultivating 100 tons (220,000 lbs) of vegetables that was harvested by volunteers.

Making Soup

In mid-2021, Leket established its Soup Program making use of excess produce it would not otherwise access, while providing food in a manner easy to heat and consume. Working with a food manufacturer in northern Israel, four types of vegetable soup were prepared (without preservatives) packaged in half liter (pint) containers, frozen and then delivered to 20 NPOs. 92,000 containers will be distributed in 2021. Feedback indicates that the soups are hearty enough to form the basis of the evening meal; a crucial factor for the housebound elderly, too tired or ill to cook for themselves.

Logistics

Project Leket’s rapid growth tested logistics’ staff; the problem being compounded by a limitation on volunteer support and the difficulty in finding skilled forklift operators. To address the challenge, staff was required to work overtime, including a six-day week, and higher capacity and more sophisticated sorting and handling equipment were purchased. The organization’s delivery vehicles also increased their workload, increasing daily capacity from 97% to 130%.

 

Cognizant of the challenges resulting from ongoing expansion, Leket hired, for the first time, a production manager who under the guidance of industrial engineers evaluates and refines on an ongoing basis the organization’s physical use of its loading and storage space, stocktaking procedures, and tracking methods and maintenance of its packing cases. The organization’s NPO Liaison and Food Safety unit also increased the number of site visits undertaken to ensure that produce quality was maintained at time of delivery to the NPOs. 

Meal Provision

Meal Provision in 2021 was based on both rescue and purchase. Overall, 1,720,000 hot meals were supplied to NPOs during the year, a drop of 30% from 2020, reflecting a dramatic cutback in meal purchase.

 

Rescue: Leket rescued 1,400,000 hot meals in 2021, matching 2020 output, the food being distributed through 6 storage hubs nationwide. Meal collection from the hotel and catering sector continued to suffer in 2021 from government instituted shutdowns, the county’s closure to overseas tourism, and the ongoing trend of people working from home. Leket’s deepening relationship with the IDF made up for this decline with a 17% increase in meals rescued from army bases (attributing for 72% of all meals rescued during the year). All 10 meal collection routes were reassessed and modified to ensure cost efficiency and an additional route was opened in the Haifa Bay region.

 

Meal Purchase: During 2020, Leket Israel, temporarily changed its business model and purchased 1 million meals to compensate for the food unavailable for rescue. The cost to purchase a meal is more than five times its rescue and redistribution costs. To ensure organizational liquidity in 2021, and move organizational focus back to food rescue, Leket cut purchase to 320,000 meals for the year (a 68% reduction). The provision of both frozen soups and increased quantities of vegetables to NPOs preparing meals addressed this shortfall in part.

Nutrition

85 nutrition workshops (340 sessions) were conducted in Hebrew, Arabic, Russian or Amharic, for a broad range of population groups at risk including, the elderly, single mothers and young mothers from the ultra-orthodox and Bedouin communities.  Meetings took place in person and via zoom with follow up surveys indicating that 88% of participants were highly motivated to change their own or their families’ eating habits.

 

Leket’s nutritionists continue to meet regularly with senior dietitians from the Health Ministry to investigate ways to address the growing problem of nutritional imbalance and obesity in Israel.  The origination is also participating for the first time in a Wingate Institute of Sport study evaluating the effects of daily PE classes and nutrition education (including the regular provision of fresh produce) on the performance of students at a high-risk elementary school in Netanya. Results will be compared to a control group of students not participating in the project.

Volunteerism

During 2021, Leket hosted more than 18,000 volunteers (an increase of 20% over 2020), through activities ranging from the gleaning and repackaging of produce, to the delivery of Shabbat food parcels to the elderly (in partnership with NPOs in central and northern Israel). Efforts to recruit the Israeli business sector proved successful, with 95% of Logistics Center volunteers coming from corporate groups.

 

The volunteer department handled an average of 1,000 inquires a month. Due to the sharp fluctuations in infection levels, volunteer cancellation rates averaged 55%, requiring staff to work late into the night to find stopgap solutions to help support the logistics staff.

Fundraising

NIS 84,000,000 ($25,454,000) will be raised during the year; this being 6% less than in 2020. Anticipating a more significant  decline in 2021, due to donor fatigue and the ongoing economic uncertainty, the organization did much to maintain its donors and generate new income through (a) the use of an inhouse call in center to contact lapsed donors in Israel and the US, (b) the the development and promotion of ongoing online fundraising initiatives and brand awareness campaigns, (c) the use of zoom conferences to update $1,000+ donors on organizational activity, and (d) increased donor research.  

During 2021 Leket conducted 21 online fundraising or social media campaigns. Changes introduced by both Apple and Facebook made fundraising and the analysis of specific online activities increasingly difficult, leading the organization to seek out social media alternatives. Significant work was also invested in editing the organization’s email list to reduce the number of emails being blocked or sent to spam.

PR and Marketing

Intensive marketing activity within the farming community including 23 feature articles in a daily newspaper, farmer appreciation breakfasts at harvests end, and participation at professional conferences, played a crucial part in deepening farmers’ awareness to Leket’s activities and subsequently increasing project output. Consultants recent work with farmers to understand factors motivating or preventing them from donating their excess will guide marketing activity in the coming year.

Government Relations

15 Ministers and Knesset members visited Leket’s Logistics Center during the year. The organization’s considerable efforts to gain government support for hunger relief and food rescue in 2021, resulted in some notable success. Leket, together with other leading NPOs, was instrumental in the establishment of a Knesset based lobby group led by the coalition whip MK Idit Silman. The organization together with other NPOs, also succeeded for the first time in having food relief included as part of the Ministry of Social Welfare’s permanent base budget.  

 

At the request of senior members of Singapore’s Foreign Ministry and Singapore’s Ambassador to Israel, Leket staff met by zoom with Singaporean government officials to guide them on a range of issues including governance of food waste, efficient distribution of excess food, and the promotion of waste prevention.

Staff and Management

Staff morale and identification with organizational goals remains high, even though manpower shortages have increased individual workloads. Staff burnout is clearly a risk, with the HR department expanding to recruit additional staff. The 11-person management team has remained stable over the past three years, their increased cohesion and confidence adding to management’s willingness to take calculated risks to both grow output and introduce new programs such as the soup initiative.

Looking to the Future: 2022

Entering 2022, the state of both the pandemic and the world economy remain unclear. Reports from the field indicate that even as people return to work their accumulated debt and the recent food price increases have left them in a situation of need. Leket will do all in its power to increase output to meet this increase in demand while continuing to service the elderly, invalid, single parent families, and children at risk.

 

The organization’s goals for 2022 include:

  • The rescue and distribution of 30,000 tons (66.16 million lbs.) of produce, an estimated increase of 20%.
  • Increasing storage to a height of 7 meters (23 feet) thus increasing storage capacity by 75% from the current 4 meters (13 feet).
  • To rescue an estimated 2.1 million hot meals, an increase of 24% over 2020. Opening new collection routes and distribution hubs in the Ramle-Lod, Ashkelon-Ashdod and Karmiel regions.
  • The cultivation of 500 tons (1.1 million lbs.) of vegetables.
  • The increase of volunteer participation to 40,000 volunteers, the focus being on schools and the business sector.
  • Further investment in technology, including a new donor maintenance CRM system and a computerized tracking system for packing cases.
  • Analysis using outside consultants of the meal rescue process from recruitment to distribution
  • Support of innovative social welfare programs including provision of food to social supermarkets in Jerusalem, Nahariya and the Haifa region.
  • Continued work with the Departments of Finance, Agriculture, Social Welfare and the Environment, promoting food rescue as the most cost-efficient way to address nutritional insecurity.

We thank you again for your support and ongoing vote of confidence.

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לוגואים-לפוטר-07.2021
Leket Israel

Leket Israel

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