of Food Provided
People Fed Weekly
66,000 sq ft
Size of New Logistics Center
Nourishing Soups that Warm the Body and the Heart
A hot soup in the winter does more than just fill an empty stomach; it also offers comfort and nourishment. Leket Israel’s soup initiative demonstrates a desire to go beyond providing a daily hot meal. In partnership with caterer Mevushelet, Leket Israel is preparing fresh soups from surplus produce rescued from farms and packing houses around the country. The project, which began in 2021, has grown from three types of soups to seven, including tomato and rice, lentil, pea, bean, vegetable, Harira (a Moroccan vegetable soup) and orange soup (incorporating carrots and sweet potatoes). Leket Israel supplies the produce, and Mevushelet supplies the remaining ingredients. All the soups are frozen at the time of production and can remain in the freezer for up to one year. The soups are distributed through a network of over 40 nonprofit partner agencies throughout the country who cater specifically to the elderly.
As with many of Leket Israel’s special projects, there are other benefits to the soups in addition to supplying an extra meal to those in need. Perhaps the most important one is that turning the excess vegetables into frozen soups extends the nutritional value and the shelf life of the vegetables.
Since the project’s inception, the demand for the soups has grown significantly. As many nonprofits do not have sufficient freezer space to store the soups, Leket Israel will begin investing in expanding the infrastructure of some nonprofit partners to ensure that more people will be able to receive soups through this program. With the success of the soup project, it has become clear that Leket Israel can work to find creative solutions for utilizing the excess produce and serving it to Israelis in need, especially the elderly.
A New Year and a New Unique Holiday Project
Following two years of Covid-19, many Israelis have unfortunately joined the circle of poverty, unable to provide basic necessities for their families. Compounded by the impact of the war in Ukraine and the farmers being unable to export their produce and the rising cost of living, many Israelis found it difficult to make ends meet this past High Holiday season.
In light of this, Leket Israel, with the help of a matching gift from a prominent US donor, launched a special project for the Rosh Hashanah holiday, providing Israelis in need with a variety of holiday-specific produce that they would not be able to buy for themselves, but are important symbols for celebrating the holiday. Included in this special package were apples, pomegranates, honey, leeks, walnuts, squash, dates, and beets, all purchased from Leket Israel partner farmers. Before the holiday, the packages were delivered to 30,000 families across the country through 170 of Leket Israel’s nonprofit partner agencies.
“We wanted to do something special for the holiday, especially at a time when the need is increasing as a result of the rising cost of living,” shared Chen Feldhamer, Director of Agency Relations at Leket Israel. “These special Rosh Hashanah symbols enable those who are struggling to not only have a meal on the table, but to also be able to really celebrate the holiday. The reaction from the nonprofits was tremendous, and we are privileged to have had the opportunity to make this New Year a happy one.”
The First Social Supermarket in Nahariya
In March, Leket Israel, in cooperation with the City of Nahariya and the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey, opened the first ever social supermarket in Nahariya (northern Israel). Social supermarkets, which are already popular in countries like the United Kingdom, the United States, and Europe, are a new phenomenon in Israel. The supermarket is set up as a regular store, however the products are significantly discounted or free for the clientele. In Nahariya, Leket Israel supplies the grocery store with fresh fruit and vegetables and a variety of frozen soups at no cost to the shoppers.
The social supermarket was established with the aim of offering a place where Nahariya’s underprivileged residents could receive or purchase food or other home goods at a fraction of their market value. This special supermarket provides the experience of selecting and buying food, instead of receiving the same products as handouts.
At the close of 2022, Leket Israel was proud to announce that through the Nahariya social supermarket, it was able to assist over 100 families in obtaining healthy food for their families, despite the rising cost of food. The goal for 2023 is to expand to 160 families.
For the past 19 years, Leket Israel has been working with farmers, hotels, corporate cafeterias, Israel Defense Forces (IDF) army bases, and other food donors, to rescue nutritious cooked food to benefit those who need it most. Additionally, with the help of licensed dietitians, Leket Israel provides nutrition education workshops to vulnerable populations to teach them critical skills such as eating healthy on a limited budget and the value of trying unfamiliar fruit and vegetables. However, in an everchanging world it is very clear that another crucial element to Leket Israel’s growth and success is creating brand awareness.
Growing Leket Israel’s donor and partner network is no longer possible only via word of mouth or through its printed marketing materials. Increased awareness through social media and brand ambassadors opens a new audience of potential supporters. In the past year, Leket has partnered with popular social media influencers to increase the number of our own social media followers and donations. Additionally, Leket has brought in well-known Israeli actress Nelly Tagar, for the new What a Waste! campaign, with promotions on television, radio, and digital and print outlets.
Further, Leket Israel has built a new Leket Ambassador program to help spread the word of Leket. The Ambassador program is comprised of both staff and volunteers in Israel who are trained in different presentation skills to represent Leket Israel in front of any type of group. The Ambassadors learn body language, public speaking, Leket updates and more, to customize their speech to whatever audience they are addressing.
With the growth of Leket’s brand awareness, the goal is for Leket to increase its operations and provide more nutritious surplus food to those who need it most.