The 2023 Annual Report is a summary of Leket’s ongoing activities and the changes that were implemented as a result of the Swords of Iron war in Israel. The 2023 Annual Report reflects the significant support and solidarity Leket Israel has received from its partners and friends throughout this difficult time. It is not taken for granted that you continue to believe in us and our actions, standing by us and those who depend on us year after year.
Between January and September, Leket’s operations were focused on the routine – rescuing food and delivering it to tens of thousands of families, providing nutritional support across the country.
With the outbreak of the Swords of Iron war in October, Leket’s operational model underwent a substantial and immediate change, yet continued to focus on providing positive support in times of emergency.
For over 20 years, Leket has been rescuing fresh and nutritious food and delivering it to those in need throughout the country. During routine times, Leket rescues cooked meals mainly from IDF army bases, hotels, and corporate cafeterias.
In 2023, Leket rescued, purchased, and distributed 2,300,000 meals from 126 suppliers, marking a 10% increase from the previous year. Of these, 1,787,000 meals were rescued, and 513,000 meals were purchased and specially produced for Leket during the wartime period. These meals were distributed to residents in conflict areas, as well as to Leket’s regular nonprofit partners.
“Every day, we receive a donation of about 3,000 meals from Leket Israel for the residents of Ashkelon, including the elderly, individuals in distress, and families who cannot cook or go shopping. They spend the entire day in shelters, and thanks to you, we can send them warm meals. The food is varied and special, and I want to thank you. Everyone is waiting for the food; it truly is a lifesaver,”
– Bracha Broubin, Ashkelon Municipality, during a food distribution event at the Youth Center for Young Adults
From the time the organization was established, Leket Israel has been collaborating with the Israeli agriculture community, where farmers are the largest donors of surplus food.
A total of 32,200,000 kg (70,988,848 lbs.) of agricultural produce was harvested, collected, purchased, and distributed by 704 farmers and packaging houses. This marks a 21% increase in production compared to the year 2022. The increase in agricultural output was made possible through equipment upgrades, strengthening relationships with farmers, and optimizing precision in the harvesting process.
Of the total agricultural yield, 27,500,000 kg (60,627,122 lbs.) were rescued, and an additional 4,700,000 kg (10,361,726 lbs.) were purchased during the war. One of the new projects undertaken this year was a partnership with the organization Bereishit from the Golan Heights, who donated 3,000,000 kg (6,613,000 lbs.) of lightly marred apples following a hailstorm in April. The apples have been distributed to families from Rosh Hashanah up until today.
“Most of the time, I don’t go shopping; I don’t have the financial means. If they bring me fruit and vegetables, then I cook. I can’t afford to buy tomatoes at NIS 10 per kg today. I don’t have the option, especially since last week when I was hospitalized for anxiety. Thanks to Leket Israel for the fruit and vegetables and for everything. May you always be on the giving side”
– Maria Abargel, Dimona
Throughout the year, dedicated volunteers from both Israel and around the world, including individuals, soldiers, schools, missions, and businesses, assist us in our Logistics Center in Gan Haim for sorting and packing fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as in harvesting surplus produce in the fields in Rishon Lezion. In 2023, a total of 70,000 volunteers came to help Leket Israel, 45,000 between January and September.
Since the outbreak of the war, an additional 25,000 volunteers joined in helping farmers in the fields, serving as an example of social and community responsibility. They demonstrated perseverance and dedication, aiming to replace the heavy shortage in manpower during the harvest. The community’s mobilization showcases strength, unity, and generosity during the toughest times.
“Beloved volunteers, thank you very much for the spirit of giving and willingness. This is the new Zionism. Very exciting.”
– A family from Kibbutz Sdeh Nitzan, who lost their son in a terror attack and received assistance from Leket Israel volunteers
For the past three years, Leket has been producing high-quality soups from surplus vegetables. These soups are distributed to those in need, primarily the elderly and those unable to cook for themselves, with the goal of increasing the variety of healthy food consumed by them and extending the shelf life of agricultural produce.
In 2023, it was decided to expand the project and Leket started to produce frozen stews, also made from surplus produce, and distributed them to those in need. In the past year, Leket supplied 380,000 soups and frozen stews through more than 70 nonprofit partners and organizations. Leket will continue to diversify and enrich the menu for those in need this year, while also supporting the expansion of infrastructure in these organizations so they can receive and provide more nutritious soups and stews to those who need them.
“There are some people who come to our center who are so hungry and the food they receive from us is the only food they eat all day. Recently, we started receiving soups that we can give them to take home, and some even eat soups with vegetables. Thanks to Leket Israel for bringing us food and doing good for me and everyone.”
– Lilach Amir-Ovadya, Manager of the M.A.M.T.S Center in Haifa
In 2023, Leket assisted 330,000 beneficiaries every week. The populations receiving the rescued food come from a low socio-economic status and suffer from nutritional insecurity. These communities lack consistent access to healthy food, compounded by a lack of knowledge and awareness regarding nutrition and its impact on health. This includes the elderly, Holocaust survivors, at-risk children and youth, and families in distress.
During the wartime period, given the complex challenges and emerging needs, Leket had to provide immediate assistance to those facing hardship. Leket’s aid reached the elderly, homebound individuals, families forced to stay in conflict zones, and those displaced from their homes.
60,000 people received timely and dignified assistance from Leket, beyond support for basic needs. This assistance aimed to create a sense of security during a time of uncertainty.
In the past year, Leket rescued, purchased, and distributed 34,500,000 kg (76,000,000 lbs.) of healthy and nutritious food to all those in need. On average, 67,500 families received 10 kg (22 lbs.) of food every week.
“Thank you for all the goodness you showered upon us, for your unwavering generosity, for finding the time and place to be there for us, to extend a helping hand and help us stand on our feet again. Know that in the darkest of times, you emerged and reminded us that we are not alone. The road to recovery is still long, but with your generosity, you have filled us with hope and the courage to complete the journey”
– Kibbutz Nirim
In 2023, through Leket’s network of 296 nonprofit agency partners and organizations, food was distributed to beneficiaries throughout the country every day. Since the war, Leket has added 8 new organizations to the network with the intention of continuing with them after the conflict is over. Leket and its nonprofit agency partners work in close collaboration, ensuring that food is delivered to those who need it, providing professional support, assistance with infrastructure, food safety consultancy, and nutrition education workshops for staff and recipients.
In the past year, NIS 600,000 ($160,000) was invested in upgrading the infrastructure of Leket’s NPO partners. The assistance included providing trucks, refrigerators, and freezers, enabling these NPOs to enhance their capabilities to receive and provide food to those in need.
“Once a week, Meir Panim receives fresh fruit and vegetables from Leket Israel. Since the outbreak of the war, we have started receiving daily meals which we are very grateful for. This is a solution for both lunch and dinner, sustaining our clientele during the difficult times of the war. I want to thank Leket Israel for their contribution and ongoing assistance, especially during these challenging times”
– Nissim Almikayes, Manager of “Meir Panim” in Dimona
Emphasizing the importance of a healthy and balanced diet continues to be one of the core components of Leket Israel’s work. Throughout 2023, the Nutrition and Quality Department conducted over 325 workshops on the value of healthy nutrition, focusing on vulnerable populations, including the elderly, parents, and children through dedicated workshops.
Even during the war, Leket continues to stress the significance of maintaining a healthy and nutritious diet. One of Leket’s new initiatives is being implemented at hotels hosting evacuees from the north and south. In the lobby of the hotels, stands of fresh produce are placed offering a continuous supply of fresh fruit and vegetables, enabling those who have been displaced to eat fresh produce throughout the day, something which they have unfortunately been lacking. The stock is refreshed weekly.
Additionally, the Leket Briut -Nutrition Education program is being expanded from 5 elementary schools to 10. This unique program combines nutrition education in low-income schools with the distribution of packages of fresh agricultural produce to the students and their families. The goal of the program is to improve nutritional security, increase the consumption of vegetables and fruit by the students and their families, and raise awareness of the importance of eating fruit and vegetables as part of a healthy and sustainable diet. The program is accompanied by research conducted by Leket’s Nutrition and Quality Department in collaboration with Ariel University. Feedback received so far reflects significant changes in the eating habits of families participating in the study.
The 8th Annual Food Waste and Rescue Report includes a new and expanded chapter on the “Impact of Food Rescue on Nutritional Security and Health Costs in Israel.” The additional health cost due to nutritional insecurity in Israel in 2022 is estimated at NIS 5.2 billion ($1.47b), which is about 5% of national health expenditures. Furthermore, the Report reveals that 1.4 million people experience some level of nutritional insecurity in Israel. The economic impact on the economy, alongside the tens of thousands of families displaced due to the war, will significantly worsen nutritional insecurity among affected populations.
The crucial data highlighted in the Report underscores the importance of healthy and nutritious food rescue activities and its delivery to beneficiaries, which Leket Israel has been doing for 20 years, as part of the ability to improve their health status and the implications for the years to come.
“Children and their families receive a variety of fruit and vegetables and also learn about proper nutrition and the value of giving. Thanks for the opportunity to participate”
– Mali Barzani, Head of the Parents’ Committee and mother of a school student
The impact that farmers and Israeli agriculture have suffered due to the war is severe. Many farmers have been relocated from their fields, some have limited access to them, others have directly suffered damage to their crops and equipment. Additionally, many farmers lack labor for harvesting and other agricultural tasks, and there is not enough produce to sell.
To address these challenges and provide positive support to the farmer partners, Leket has established a comprehensive support framework for farmers, including:
The decrease in agricultural production in the southern and northern border regions has limited the availability of surplus produce reaching Leket Israel. Through the framework Leket has created, Leket is supporting the farmers and will continue to ensure a supply of nutritious fruit and vegetables for those in need.
“A week ago, we requested assistance with harvesting persimmons near Beit Hillel. My father was almost desperate and wanted to give up on the harvest. Leket Israel sent us 170 volunteers who managed to harvest 40 tons in just 4 days. It’s hard to express the excitement in words. Thank you for the support!”
– Michal Cohen, daughter of a farmer from Metula
At the outbreak of the war, Leket initiated the purchase of dry food products from suppliers in the south. The goal was to immediately provide packages of essential basic food products to families and residents in conflict areas and to those displaced from their homes. The products were mainly sourced from businesses and stores in the conflict areas, providing economic support to local suppliers. From October to December, Leket distributed 32,400 packages to those in need.
“My elderly grandmother, who lives in Ofakim, is traumatized and unable to return to her home due to the destruction and killing of dozens of Ofakim residents. Besides the emotional trauma, she urgently needed food, and I had no idea how to bring it to her safely. I turned to Leket Israel, and within 24 hours, a box full of goodness arrived at her doorstep, including fresh fruit and vegetables, and dry food products. I want to express my gratitude to Leket Israel for the prompt assistance and support during these challenging days”
– Maya, granddaughter of an elderly woman from Ofakim
In the early days of the war, Leket provided financial assistance for families affected by the war with vouchers/debit cards. This program was designed to help those whose income has been impacted or who did not have access to their regular sources of support. From October to December, Leket distributed 11,574 vouchers in various amounts tailored to the needs of the recipients.
“I wanted to express my gratitude again for the crucial work. Seeing mothers crying tears of joy when they received the prepaid card and hearing that the empty refrigerator at home is simply warming the heart”
– Shari Winterov, Manager of the Youth Promotion Unit/Hila, Kiryat Yam
At the end of August, Leket launched a new and exciting project in collaboration with local municipalities. Once a week the ‘Leket Express,’ truck, filled with fresh agricultural produce, arrives in neighborhoods where there is no local NPO partner and residents live in low socio-economic conditions.
This support enables the beneficiaries to receive fruit and vegetables, a food source they are unable to afford due to its high costs. Each distribution point receives 9-12 diverse products every week. Since its implementation in 2023, the project has expanded to 4 distribution points in: Rishon LeZion, Netanya, Mevasseret Zion, and Dimona. The number of distribution points is planned to increase in 2024.
Thorough the Leket Ambassador Program, middle and high school students are trained by the Educational Settlement Administration, to serve as ambassadors for Leket Israel in schools. The training is conducted by students for their peers in their own schools, covering topics such as sustainability, environmental conservation, nutrition, and Leket Israel’s food rescue operations. This initiative serves as another way to increase Leket’s brand awareness and the importance of food rescue, fostering connections with families in schools, and creating interest through the next generation.
This past July, Leket Israel marked 20 years of food rescue operations with a fantastic two-day Leket Live mission. Joined by board members, donors, representatives from global food banks and the CEO of the Global FoodBanking Network, the mission toured the country, visiting the Leket Israel’s Logistics Center, meeting partners, suppliers, supporters, and stakeholders.
a cross-disciplinary forum initiated by the President of Israel with the aim of discussing all issues related to the ongoing climate challenge. Leket Israel is active member of the forum.
As part of Leket’s focus on sustainable activities, Leket has joined a new organization encompassing North African and Middle Eastern countries, with the goal of learning and collaborating on food rescue and leading environmental conservation efforts in our region. Leket Israel is the sole organization carrying out fieldwork in this initiative.
Precision Agriculture Identification Project: After a year of collaboration with engineers from Code for Israel, a unique software was developed for Leket Israel.
This program detects the maturity level of crops in the fields and assesses their preparedness for harvesting. The software enables communication with farmers, thus increasing the quantity and quality of rescued produce.