Wasted tzedakah, wasted food and increased hunger in US and Israel

In Los Angeles, almost all the chickens used in the pre-Yom Kippur kaparot ritual that were supposed to go poor Jews in this U.S. city were discovered to be going directly from the ceremonies to landfill. From other evidence, such as the following picture from New York’s Yeshiva News Service, it seems that the slaughtered kaparot chickens are going into a large bin marked “inedible” and probably not to the poor.

Inedible chicken

As Arutz Sheva reported, the Israeli Rabbinate wrote:

We appeal to all of those who do the ‘pidyon kaparot’ ritual before Yom Kippur with chickens and ask that you take care not to cause unnecessary suffering at any stage in the transport and holding of the chicken.

Mistreatment of chickens can cause their meat to no longer be kosher, the rabbinate warned.

Interestingly, the Rabbinate did not address the issue of the “pidyon,” the redeeming of the kaparah chicken through use of money, intended to go to the poor, when actually, little or no money or chicken meat go to the poor.  This is a widespread phenomenon in the U.S. and likely Israel.

Rising rates of food waste is also happening in the general society. The US is losing up to 40 percent of its food from farm to fork to landfill. This is largely because there is widespread misunderstanding of sell-by, use-by, best-by dates on food products. Over half (52 percent) of fruits and vegetables end up as waste collectively in the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand according to the NRDC.

All of this is happening when food insecurity has been found to be increasing in the U.S. In 2011 the U.S. had 15 percent of households which were food insecure which was a fifth less than the proportion of food insecure households in Israel. Israel’s National Insurance Institute, in a 2011 survey,  found that 19 percent of families in Israel suffer from food insecurity, 10 percent suffer from hunger and two percent suffer from severe hunger.

About the Author
Pini Herman, PhD, is a principal of Phillips and Herman Demographic Research based in Los Angeles; He specializes in demographics, big data and predictive analysis; He has been affiliated with the University of Southern California Dept.of Geography, the USC School of Social Work, and served seven years as Research Director at the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles.
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