July 18, 2013

Advocacy in Israel: MAZON visit July 16, 2013

Abby J. Leibman, President & CEO and Mia Hubbard, Vice President of Programs are in Israel, meeting with our grantees and gaining a deeper understanding of hunger in Israel. Follow along on their journey!

Missed the first post? Read it here: July 14, 2013

Today we traveled to Be’ersheva, the largest city in the Negev desert in southern Israel, to meet with Be’er Sova. Their flagship program is a small but welcoming restaurant-style soup kitchen located in Be’ersheva’s old city, which serves about 200 people daily. Be’er Sova also delivers food packages to needy immigrant families and operates a meals-on-wheels program for hundreds of homebound seniors. 

But their aspirations for the organization and the community go well beyond food boxes and hot meals.  During our meeting with Erez Nagawker (Executive Director) and Elizabeth Homans (Development Director), we learned about their exciting vision for transforming the way Be’er Sova works.  “We want to put the clients at the center, not their hunger,” says Erez. 

They intend to do this with a three-pronged strategy focused on:

  • Employment
  • Empowerment
  • Advocacy 

The organization is developing plans to launch a community kitchen, where some clients will be employed and trained in culinary arts and food services.  Through a partnership with the school district, the cooked meals will be served at local schools and generate a source of reliable revenue for Be’er Sova. 

The empowerment component, led by a recently-hired social worker, will engage twenty women in a process of exploring critical issues related to hunger and poverty and identifying ways they can collectively work to confront them.  This effort — to shift the client’s view of themselves from passive recipients of charity to active members of their community and agents of change — will drive Be’er Sova’s broader policy advocacy efforts as they mobilize their clients to demand the change they want to see in their community and in their own lives. 

Their plan is a powerful approach, which could be a model for other organizations in the country.  We left feeling deeply inspired by Ezer and Elizabeth’s leadership and passion, hopeful about what is possible, and privileged to be their partner.

- Mia