For the past 17 years Leket Israel, The National Food Bank, has been at the forefront of rescuing healthy surplus food from farms, packing houses, hotels, caterers and army bases across Israel and delivering it to those in need through over 200 non-profit partner organisations, serving people from all sectors of Israeli society. In 2019, Leket rescued approximately 9,000 meals a day from hotels, caterers and army bases and ‘Project Leket’ gleaned and distributed 15,000 tons of fresh produce to benefit the needy. Project Leket’s goal for 2020 is to increase the amount of fresh produce they rescue and redistribute to 20,000 tons. The value of the rescued produce is approximately $40 million.
The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a significant increase in demand for Leket’s assistance from non-profit partner organisations, struggling to help the growing number of people in need of food due to the pandemic. Although the closure of hotels, caterers and wedding halls has led to a significant decrease in the supply of rescuable surplus prepared food, the fall in demand for agricultural products by these businesses has resulted in higher availability of fresh produce for rescue and Leket being offered a more diverse range of fresh food and in significantly greater quantities.
Since COVID-19 hit, Leket has intensified its activities and delivered over 1.7 million hot meals and 13,000 tons of fresh produce to the growing number of people at risk of food insecurity. Support from the Scheinberg Relief Fund has enabled Leket to rescue and distribute more than 1,250 tons of fresh produce to 62 non-profit partners in 2020, enough produce for 22,900 people each day.
During December 2020 holiday period, the SRF enabled Leket to purchase and distribute cooked meals to 4,000 seniors across Israel, support which Leket leveraged to secure funding which enables the program to continue for a second month.