The monthy update for our most dedicated supporters from CEO Gidi Kroch
Guess Who’s (Not) Coming to Dinner?
Both the Israel and the American Friends offices are continuing to pursue creative alternatives to the gala dinner fundraiser.
Instead of hosting a gala dinner this year, in Israel, Leket hosted a concert event for the children of Ofakim. Ofakim is a peripheral town in southern Israel near the Gaza border where we provide hot meals to high school students at a “last chance” school as well as a steady supply of fresh produce to our NPO partner agencies. All of Ofakim’s 1,300 5th-8th graders plus 120 students from the “last chance” high school attended a fun-filled evening which included food and a concert by pop stars Static & Ben-El Tavori – a normally inaccessible treat in that part of the country.
To date, Leket’s development team has raised more than 1.3 million shekels in this annual campaign. Meanwhile, the American Friends of Leket Israel’s Non-Dinner Campaign (see more, including videos of Joseph Gitler and his family here) has brought in close to $170,000 and is continuing to work towards its target of $300,000.
Pictured below: (left to right) Static, Ofakim Mayor Itzik Danino, Joseph Gitler, Ben-El Tavori
As winter sets in and citrus season is underway in Israel, Leket Israel’s annual Sayeret Tapuz (Orange Patrol) project is once again in full force. Around 1,000 teenagers are helping to collect fresh produce from fruit trees and gardens in private yards which would otherwise have been left to rot. The teenagers, most of whom are members of youth movements and volunteering organizations, are scheduled to collect fruit for Leket Israel in Ra’anana, Kfar Saba, Givat Shmuel, Ramat Hasharon, Kiryat Tivon and more.
Many of the canvas bags being used for Sayeret Tapuz were decorated and donated by schools and synagogues in the US and participants from UK Mitzvah Day.
Rescuing Produce from the Farmers Who Make the Desert Bloom
The harvest season in the Arava region has begun. For many years, this desert region only produced one kind of vegetable – bell peppers. The farmers have been expanding their growing efforts and now also grow eggplant, tomatoes, cucumbers and zucchini. Despite the struggles of farming in the middle of the desert, every week one or two Leket trucks travel down to this southern region to collect donated surplus produce. As of now, we have received 23 tons of surplus produce, all staple vegetables, from the region including Moshavim Faran, Hazeva, Tsofar and Idan.
Food Donation Act Awareness Campaign
This month, we began a new, major push to get the Food Donation Act passed in the Knesset. The Food Donation Act is similar to the US Good Samaritan Law and will provide legal protection to organizations who donate surplus food in good faith.
As part of Leket’s wider lobbying efforts, we have begun running an ad campaign in Israel’s major financial newspapers, calling on Members of Knesset (MKs) to support the bill ahead of an upcoming committee discussion in mid-December.
We are currently rescuing 2.5 million meals out of the 64 million meals thrown away every year in Israel’s industrial sector. The implementation of this legislation would open the door to collecting many more additional hot meals to benefit those who need them most.
Announcing El-Al Partnership
Our corporate partnerships are soaring to new heights. This month, we are excited to announce that Leket has entered a two year partnership with El Al, Israel’s national airline. In addition to financial support, twice a month, El Al will send two busses full of employees to volunteer in sorting and packing rescued produce in our Ra’anana Logistics Center and will promote Leket in their Atmosphere magazine as well as show a Leket video on flights. To watch the Hebrew video that El Al produced on the first day of volunteering in the Logistics Center, please click here.
Behind the Scenes on Hot Meals:
Bringing Surplus Meals to More Recipients through Regional Hubs
There are many challenges involved in being an ever-expanding, nationwide organization that rescues and distributes food from hundreds of locations across the country. Cooked meals must be transported, heated and served at the right time. One of the main solutions to this challenge is Leket forming partnerships with regional hubs. The hubs are large soup kitchens where we are able to store rescued cooked meals overnight and reheat those meals the following morning in time to serve a hot lunch to those in need.
The route that covers the largest distance is the Eilat route. Every day, our drivers rescue around 1,100 meals from 16 hotels and 5 IDF bases in Israel’s southernmost city and then bring them to the Be’er Sova soup kitchen in Be’er Sheva, a 3-hour drive north. There, the meals are safely stored overnight in refrigerators that Leket provided. The following morning, the rescued meals are heated in Be’er Sova’s large kitchen before they are sent out to feed needy Israelis at two schools, six centers for at-risk youth, three soup kitchens an elderly care center and a center for the blind.
Leket Israel also operates regional hubs at the Lichyot B’Kavod soup kitchen in Rishon L’Tziyon in central Israel and the Nitzav Refael soup kitchen in Jerusalem. The hot meal rescue program has been expanding so much that we are currently in talks to open three more regional hubs in northern Israel, Kiryat Gat and a second hub in Jerusalem. We anticipate being able to rescue and serve thousands more rescued hot meals through these partnerships.