The monthly update for our most dedicated supporters from Gidi Kroch
In this edition:
- Ministry of Welfare, Eshel Yerushalayim and Leket Israel Initiative
- Leket Israel’s Inaugural Leket Live Mission
- Spotlight on a Leket NPO Partner: Ha’Meshakem
Ministry of Welfare, Eshel Yerushalayim and Leket Israel Initiative
In February 2017, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Social Services initiated a joint initiative with Eshel Yerushalayim, a Chabad organization in Jerusalem, and Leket Israel. The project’s goal is to provide food packages to the 10,000 poorest families in Israel, identified by the Israel Social Security. At the start, it ran for 8 days each month and Leket Israel distributed fresh rescued fruits and vegetables to 3,200 families. As of 2018, the project runs every month for 9-10 days and supplies fresh produce to over 4,000 families in 36 locations in Israel. The next planned growth is an increase to 5,000 families and will run 12 days out of every month.
Based on the produce Leket Israel has collected, the Project Manager builds a basket to be distributed to the 4,000 families. The packaging process, at the Leket Israel Logistics Center in Ra’anana, is carried out in two stages coinciding with the morning and afternoon volunteer sessions. In Step 1, the morning 50-75 volunteers sort and package the vegetables as well as build the boxes. In Step 2, the 50 afternoon volunteers pack the cartons with the produce that was sorted in the morning. Early the next day, these packages are taken in Leket Israel trucks to Eshel Yerushalayim distribution sites for delivery to the homes of the 4,000 families.
According to the guidelines set out for the initiative, each parcel is required to meet specific criteria. It needs to weigh around 22kg and have a variety of 8-9 types of produce; including 5-6 kinds of vegetables and at least 3 different types of fruits. Leket’s reimbursement for the packages is a formula based on the amount of packages, variety and weight. Currently, Leket is at a 96% completion of the packages and therefore is reimbursed at the maximum allowed by the guidelines of the initiative.
As with every large undertaking, there are organizational challenges that need to be addressed. Due to the fact that the produce that is rescued by Leket Israel is all fresh, the variety of produce depends on the season, which means that there is no guarantee that basics, such as potatoes, onions and carrots will be available all year round. Also, since not every community requires the same fresh produce, Leket needs to ensure that each community receives the vegetables that they prefer; for instance, the Arab population will not take kohlrabi while Ethiopian immigrants do not eat eggplants. In addition, with so many boxes being packaged each day, this necessitates a high volume of cold storage facilities and volunteers which can often be a challenge to enlist. Without the volunteers Leket would not be able to produce the required 400-500 boxes a day. Lastly, since the parcels are delivered to the Eshel Yerushalayim distribution locations, Leket Israel is unable to control the handling of the boxes once given over to the home delivery drivers. Variables such as temperature, storage and time to deliver impact the quality of the produce received at the family’s doorstep. As the partnership continues, Leket Israel is constantly making logistical and management inroads to improve the process and efficiency.
Leket Israel’s Inaugural Leket Live Mission
This July, Leket Israel was delighted to host its inaugural Leket Live Mission, where board members and loyal supporters had the opportunity to visit Leket Israel’s programs in-depth and to experience firsthand the variety of its activities that it operates each month, from food rescue to distribution. The goal of the Mission was to bring together dedicated Leket Israel enthusiasts to learn more about the ins and outs of Leket’s daily work. Even though many of the participants have been long time friends of the organization, very few were fully aware of the range of needy Israelis Leket touches every day and in addition, the participants gained a greater appreciation for the tremendous amount of logistics involved in rescuing vast amounts of surplus food from all over the country.
The Mission kicked off with a meeting of all Leket Israel boards followed by a welcome dinner at Leket’s logistics center, where a special certificate was given to Yair Sokolovsky, a National Service volunteer with special needs, for his support of the hot meal collection program. Over the course of three days, the visitors were taken to meet with representatives from Leket’s network. The tour started at a farm in central Israel where the participants learned that 15-20% of the farm’s yearly crops are donated to Leket. From there, they travelled to south Tel Aviv where they were taken on tours of the poorer neighborhoods with a high rate of homeless and drug addicted individuals, to see firsthand the impact Leket has on the needy in that area. Afterward, the group lunched at the Jerusalem Leonardo Plaza, part of the Fattal hotel chain and longtime Leket Israel partner, where they heard from senior management about the unique relationship between the two organizations and then continued on to the Knesset to meet with MK Nachman Shai, partake in the daily food collection and take a Knesset tour. The day ended with a tour of Nachlaot and dinner in Machane Yehuda. On the last day, the group visited and volunteered at a soup kitchen in Dimona and sat down with the NPO’s manger to learn more about the cooperation with Leket Israel. The last stop was Ir Habadhim, a large IDF army base outside of Beer Sheva where the participants had the opportunity to meet the base commander and collect the surplus lunch.
To view photos from the event, please click here. We look forward to seeing you at our Second Annual Leket Live Mission next year.
Spotlight on a Leket NPO Partner: Ha’Meshakem
Leket Israel gained a new non-profit agency partner in July called Ha’Meshakem, Israel’s leading organization devoted to vocational rehabilitation and the integration of people with disabilities into the local market. This organization is a partnership between the Ministry of Welfare and the World Zionist Organization. Leket Israel works with the Jerusalem branch which provides 150 adults with disabilities with jobs in a variety of fields including landscaping, textile, paper production and more.
Ha’Meshakem’s goal is to rehabilitate and integrate people with disabilities into the workforce and also teach them life skills that will help them outside of work as well. When Leket Israel provides Ha’Meshakem with fruits and vegetables every week, they are then distributed to the workers to be used to make lunches for themselves in the cafeteria. Being able to prepare food by themselves and ensure that they are eating healthy meals, is an integral part of the process. Additionally, from the produce that Leket Israel provides, care packages are sent home with 15 of the workers to share with their families.
It is a privilege for Leket Israel in partnership with Yedid, The association for Community Empowerment, and Ha’Meshakem to be a part of this rehabilitation and integration initiative and is just a steppingstone to building a stronger partnership together.