The monthly update for our most dedicated supporters from Gidi Kroch
Model Partnership with Eshel Yerushalayim
Over the past two years, Leket Israel has worked closely with Eshel Yerushalayim, a nonprofit organization (NPO) that is part of the larger Colel Chabad religious charitable network, to carry out the Israeli government’s tender in produce parcel distribution. The joint initiative targets 10,000 of Israel’s poorest families, by providing the families with food parcels assembled and packed full of nutritious produce by Leket Israel volunteers and supplemented with dry good by Eshel Yerushalayim. Recently, the project has reached a point where Leket Israel’s volunteers are also now packing dry goods supplied by Eshel Yerushalayim. Leket Israel’s manager of the initiative, Avivit Gurevitz, is in constant contact with Eshel Yerushalayim’s representative to ensure the project’s success. In February, Leket Israel opened a new hub adjacent and working together with Eshel Yerushalayim’s “Pantry Packers”.
In addition to its joint work on the government tender, Leket Israel also maintains a longstanding relationship with Colel Chabad sponsored “Eshel” soup kitchens throughout the country including in Dimona, Ashdod, Yerucham, and Ramle-Lod. Leket Israel supplies these NPOs with weekly deliveries of fresh produce as well as hot meals sourced on dedicated meal collection routes from prominent hotel chains, businesses, caterers, and IDF army bases. The dedicated routes, involving an intricate network of dozens of suppliers and NPOs, use paid drivers operating leased refrigerated vans to transport the rescued food safely and quickly to benefit thousands of needy people daily. Rescued food collected on the routes is delivered either directly to local soup kitchens or to a distribution hub, often a large soup kitchen with the necessary capacity to store the food overnight in refrigeration for subsequent use on site the next day. A portion of the meals staged at the hubs are also typically reheated and delivered off-site to a range of other nearby NPOs.
In its attempts to establish a meal collection route in Tzfat, Leket Israel further expanded its partnership with the Colel Chabad group, by entering into an agreement with Eshel Binyamin Tzfat to act as a meal distribution hub for the region. Leket Israel was offered assistance by Menachem Blau, Eshel Yerushalayim CEO, to introduce Leket Israel and its successful record as an “Eshel” partner to help advocate for the partnership in Tzfat. Eshel Binyamin, an established soup kitchen in Tzfat, serves hot nutritious meals daily to 120 elderly, disabled, and poverty-stricken families at its walk-in location and regularly prepares dozens of food and care packages to help Tzfat’s poor.
As part of the agreement to serve as a hub, Eshel Binyamin is in the process of renovating its kitchen in an effort to increase its capacity. Within 8-10 months it is expected to be able to safely handle an estimated 500 meals daily. To support the effort and cooperation, Leket Israel is providing the NPO with an industrial refrigerator and oven. At full capacity a route driver deployed to the Tzfat region can collect about 500 meals a day from a variety of sources including military bases, corporate cafeterias, and hotels. Of the meals, 120 would be used for on-site consumption and the additional 380 stored in refrigeration overnight, reheated the next morning and then distributed to additional sites. Locations for off-site distribution will include the Lasova after school clubs for children at high risk, public housing for the elderly, last chance high schools catering to the needs of at risk youth, and other NPOs serving those of extreme low socio-economic status.
Leket Israel also operates a prominent meal collection route in Jerusalem. However, after more than three years of successful development and expansion of the project’s operations in the Jerusalem region, some logistical changes were made to help facilitate even greater efficiency and increase capacity. As a result, Leket Israel also recently entered into a new and promising partnership with Eshel Yerushalayim. In the spirit of the strong ongoing cooperation and success with Eshel Yerushalayim, not only in Jerusalem with the government tender project, but with its branches in other regions of the country (all receiving significant food support from Leket Israel), the Jerusalem NPO has entered into a mutual agreement with our organization to serve as a meal rescue hub for the region.
To ready its facilities, Eshel Yerushalayim invested in the renovation of their soup kitchen in Jerusalem. Leket Israel supplied Eshel Yerushalayim with two high capacity industrial ovens to facilitate the reheating of the approximately 600+ meals delivered daily by its drivers for both on-site use by the eat-in soup kitchen and off-site delivery. The off-site locations, some as far as Pisgat Ze’ev and Neve Yaakov, include shelters, residential centers for the elderly, last chance schools for youth at risk, and an additional soup kitchen operated by Eshel Yerushalayim. The food is rescued from nearby IDF army bases, prominent hotels, government offices, the Knesset, and the Israel Electric Company.
The next hub both organizations will partner with will be in Kiryat Ata, in the North. An agreement had already been signed and joint operations are planned to begin early April.
Leket Israel is most pleased with the mutual investment and significant leveraging of resources, as well as the model of cooperation it has established with Colel Chabad and its “Eshel” branches throughout the country. The Win-Win Situation created is based on firm social and economic benefits. Through food rescue, Eshel Yerushalayim can now purchase less food and reach more recipients, thus creating a larger social impact. Leket Israel has found a leading organization in Israel that can support the volume of rescued meals and a partner in other arenas promoting food rescue in Israel. The cooperation also illustrates how apolitical (nonreligious) and religious organizations can work together for the benefit of needy people of all backgrounds.