A new State Comptroller report found the government lacking in its efforts to ensure that Israelis are able to maintain a basic nutritional diet, and that by relying on charity organizations, the state was not fulfilling its duty to the public. The Nutritional Insecurity report, published on Monday, calculated that there are some 900,000 Israelis who are occasionally forced to go a whole day without food, or those who for months at a time limit the amount of food they eat and go hungry.
MK Dov Khenin (Hadash) blamed the situation as result of the government’s capitalist ideology and attitudes. “The comptroller reveals a difficult picture of the widening and deepening of the circle of poverty, that includes more and more working people,” Khenin said. “This is a direct result of the extreme capitalist policies of the Netanyahu government,” he added.
Some 330,000 families — 18.3% of the total population — face nutritional insecurity, defined as the ability to regularly consume food that includes all the nutrients required for proper development and human health. Among Israeli Arabs, nearly 50% of the population is unable to meet minimal nutritional needs, the report said. The audit looked at government ministries and their efforts to beat hunger between February and August of 2013, with a particular focus on the Welfare Ministry.
State Comptroller Yosef Shapira lamented the governments’ over-reliance on non-profit organizations to distribute food, saying such an approach creates a system that is inherently unbalanced. The non-profit organizations tend to distribute resources according to their own capabilities rather than where the resources are needed most, he explained. “Poverty is not a decree of fate,” Shapira wrote. “A society that doesn’t cater to the poor and the needy living in it not only hurts their dignity and rights, but also affects its own image.” The scarce allocation of government resources and the continued reliance on voluntary giving as a solution to nutritional insecurity indicates very little government commitment to treating the subject as a whole,” Shapira added.