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66 years of food insecurity

Like David Ben Gurion's family, many Israelis still don't have enough to eat, and yet we keep wasting food

Do a Google search in Hebrew on two words: recycling revolution. Within seconds, you will get tens of results from cities across Israel, farmers, security forces etc. Who isn’t involved in recycling? People are recycling everything – bottles, paper, plastics, electrical materials…

What won’t you find in your search? Food recycling. And why is food not recycled? Why is good quality food not salvaged and delivered into the hands of those that need it? Perhaps because there is no financial gain? Bottle recycling generates nice revenue for collectors and recycling companies. The same goes for plastics, paper etc. But who has heard of recycling food?

Thirty percent of food worldwide and in Israel is destroyed even before it gets to someone’s plate. This destruction is not only inclusive of the food itself but of all the resources that went into producing it: planting, watering, fertilizing, picking and getting it to the market. This is completely illogical. Which one of us would agree that one third of our expenses towards food should go to waste, without bringing about any benefit? If that’s the case then why does almost no one in the State of Israel, a country that reports to having almost 2 million poor people, a majority of which are food insecure, throw out such large quantities of food?

Prime Minister David Ben Gurion and his family suffered from food insecurity. Paula, Ben Gurion’s wife, used to tell her children that she will eat later with their father and told Ben Gurion that she had eaten earlier with the kids. Food insecurity even affected Israel’s first Prime Minister’s household. Perhaps during that time of hardship and Israel’s struggle for existence, we could not talk of food rescue, but 66 years later, this issue needs to be part of the day to day dialogue. Just as Ben Gurion had a dream of developing the Negev, so to Israel needs to envision a State that lets no food go to waste.

True, there is food rescue in Israel today, in farms, manufacturers, catering companies and hotels. Food is being collected; but not enough. There are many more untapped resources out there and laws need to be passed that will obligate the rescue of food, protect the food donors and incentivize them to donate their surplus. For any of this to happen, an investment needs to be made in the infrastructure and in long-term planning as this will reap the greatest returns. An investment needs to be put into trucks, crates, storage facilities, refrigeration and capable staff. The financial investment needs to go hand in hand with the vision, with people who can see down the road. Everything is possible and it will even prove to be economical.

One needs to be able to look into the future and to expand upon what has already been started. The Finance Minister and the Minister of Welfare committed 230 million shekels to food insecurity. This money can lead to 230 million small changes which together will cause an enormous affect. We need a revolution like this, a food revolution. The current way is not working. To make this happen, we need a Ben Gurion and the generations that followed him, who himself moved to the Negev to set a personal example. A man who causes change, a doer. Is there anyone like this?

About the Author
Gidi joined Leket Israel as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) in July of 2007, bringing with him a wealth of administrative and hands-on experience after nearly two decades in the hi-tech sector in Israel and in the US. He holds a MBA from England's University of Derby and is a Lieutenant Commander (res.) in the Israeli Navy, having served as the head of a Fast Attack Missile Boat unit and the celebrated Fast Attack Patrol Boat division. Away from the office Gidi likes to sail, scuba dive, and read.