In Israel, where over one quarter of the population faces food insecurity, MAZON leads a powerful anti-hunger advocacy coalition of 17 partner organizations. Even during this time of great political instability in Israel, our coalition has achieved historic success. Last year, we secured funding to address food insecurity in Israel’s national budget — a profound milestone that sets an important new precedent.
Past budgets have included provisional allocations for food and hunger-related programs, but the Israeli government has never introduced permanent, secured funding until now. As noted by Eli Cohen, Executive Director of MAZON’s partner Pithon Lev, our coalition was able to “achieve something that no one else has been able to do in Israel’s 72 years of existence.”
The Knesset’s historic budget allocated 46 million shekels (the equivalent of about $14.6 million) for dedicated anti-hunger programs, plus an additional 60 million shekels (about $19 million) for food insecurity in other budget lines. However, this is far less than MAZON and our partners called for (we estimate the actual need is nearly 2 billion shekels), so we continue to fight for policies and funding to address the shocking levels of hunger in Israel.
Acts of tzedakah, charity, are an intrinsic part of Judaism. But just like in the U.S., charitable organizations in Israel can never feed every hungry person in their community — they were conceived to meet short-term needs and respond to emergency situations. Systemic problems like food insecurity demand systemic solutions, the likes of which only lawmakers and governments can provide.
In raising the visibility of hunger in Israel and policies to address it, food insecurity has become a central discussion point in Israeli civil society as well as government ministries and Knesset committees. In fact, MAZON and our partners initiated the launch of a new Knesset caucus on “Food Rescue and Food Security,” and the majority of Knesset’s 120 Members have already joined.
MAZON’s coalition was also a leading force in the formation of Israel’s new National Council of Food Security. Professor Roni Strier, the Council’s Chairman, said that MAZON is a “vital change agent in the landscape of food security in Israel. MAZON has become the main community organizer of the food security organizations in Israel.” We are now advising the Council, and the Knesset more broadly, on how best to advance meaningful and long-lasting solutions to hunger in Israel.
Together with our partners, MAZON is building the infrastructure to position food security — and long-term, government-led solutions to end hunger for all Israelis — as a prominent, priority issue for both the Israeli government and civil society.