Leket’s department of nutrition and food safety was established in order improve the quality and variety of food that Leket provides to its nonprofit partners.
Weaker populations in Israel suffer from nutritional insecurity: they have no regular access to healthy food, and they lack the knowledge and awareness of nutrition and its effect on health. As a result, the nutrition in lower socioeconomic communities is typically unbalanced as they are eating mostly carbohydrate-based foods, low in essential nutritional ingredients.
Research has found a clear correlation between poverty and obesity as well as the high frequency of diabetes and other conditions resulting from malnutrition. Women who live below the poverty line are 1.7 times more likely to be overweight, and they are at increased risk of developing diabetes and pre-Eclampsia. Furthermore, children born to these women are more likely to have birth defects, weight issues and diabetes as well as other ailments. Additionally, poor nutrition in early childhood may harm the children’s emotional, cognitive and physical development. Children born into this lifestyle are likely to suffer in this cycle for their entire lives.
The Nutrition and Food Safety Department works in four main fields:
- Strict supervision of the safety of food supplied by Leket Israel: It develops and implements food safety practices in each and every activity carried out by the organization. Leket also holds food safety sessions to educate its staff. In addition, the department closely adheres to the Israeli Ministry of Health’s food safety rules and regulations.
- Promotion of nutritious food distribution: It creates guidelines and implements an egalitarian distribution key, and monitors the food quality with a series of nutritional indexes.
- Awareness raising of healthy nutrition and instilling of positive nutritional habits: Leket Israel offers its partner NPOs and their clientele nutritional education workshops and consultations.
- Advocacy of food safety and healthy nutrition within governmental bodies and other organizations in this field.
Ensuring Food Safety:
- Developing, implementing and supervising of food safety practices in all of Leket Israel’s core projects: Agricultural Gleaning, Self-Growing Farm Initiative, Leket to Table, Nevet Sandwich Program and food collection from manufacturers.
- Creating methods to monitor and control activities related to food safety within Leket.
- Providing food safety guidance to Leket Israel and Leket partner NPO agencies.
- Regulating food safety procedures vis-à-vis the Ministry of Health: Leket acts to ensure that its partner NPOs continually work under the new strict set of guidelines determined by the Ministry of Health, while fully adhering to public health regulations
Safeguarding the food’s high nutritional value:
- Establishing guidelines for the nutritional value of the food provided by Leket Israel to populations in need, and overseeing their execution. For example: in 2014, all the rolls in the Nevet Sandwich Program were upgraded to whole wheat rolls.
- Constructing a distribution key to ensure egalitarian provision of the food.
- Monitoring the food supplied by Leket to the NPOs, using nutrition indexes and parameters that are measured monthly.
Instilling healthy eating habits:
- Nutrition for Life Program – four session workshops, customized to suit the different populations supported by Leket.
- Professional guidance and counseling to Leket partner NPOs’ staffs, and to the staff and employees of the Nevet Sandwich Program schools so that they acquire the tools to purchase and distribute healthy and nutritious food.
- Leket Israel is recognized as an expert in its field and a leader in healthy nutrition and food safety. Leket seeks every opportunity to educate the public and raise consciousness on these issues.
Collaboration with different bodies and organizations, NPOs, NGOs and academic institutions:
- In 2014, Leket Israel launched an academic research project, in collaboration with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s School of Nutrition and Tufts University in Boston.
- Leket works in cooperation with the Israeli Nutritionists and Dietitians Association, the Sustainable Nutrition Forum, and the National Nutritional Security Council.
Promotion through the publication of professional materials about nutrition through social media:
- Leket Israel seeks speaking opportunities at professional conferences to benefit Leket partner NPOs, their clients and the general public.