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Israeli food aid groups talk of striking without needed gov’t funding

JTA

May 31, 2012 | 10:35 am

Nonprofit groups that feed the needy say they may decide to go on strike for a day or two if they don’t get up to $64 million in the upcoming budget.

The groups told Israel’s welfare and social services minister, Moshe Kahlon, at a meeting this week that they could either close down or refuse to provide food for the hundreds they serve on a daily basis, according to Gidi Kroch, CEO of Leket Israel, one of the country’s largest food aid organizations based in Ra’anana,.

Kahlon promised to get back to the groups on Thursday, Kroch told JTA—but the Leket Israel chief was not expecting a call.

While the some 200 food aid organizations throughout Israel believe they need the $64 million government contribution to serve the 17 percent of Israelis who live below the poverty line, Kahlon said he would work to make sure less than half of that, or nearly $26 million, would be the baseline in the 2013 budget.

The groups also want a say in how the money is used. The government, through local welfare offices, sends needy Israelis to the groups for special food packages and other assistance.

“No one knows better than us about food insecurity in day-to-day life in Israel,” Kroch told JTA on Thursday.

Kroch said he has been receiving more private calls for assistance from middle-class Israelis who have never needed help before and also do not know how to “work the system.”

He added that last summer’s social equality demonstrations, and those expected this year, are also on behalf of the middle class and do not benefit those in real poverty.

“For the poor, we have already lost the fight,” he said.

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