On Oct. 18, hundreds of Israelis across four locations joined together to glean food for the hungry. The Leket Israel program celebrated World Food Day, observed internationally on Oct. 16, and raised awareness of the need to eliminate food waste in a country where some people still go hungry.
According to Leket Israel, more than 1.5 million people in Israel suffer from food insecurity and hunger at a time when 40 percent of all edible food is wasted even before it reaches the plate. This is due, in part, to a consumer culture that demands perfect looking and unbruised fruit to fill produce store shelves and market conditions that make it easier for farmers to let unwanted produce rot in the fields rather than pay workers to pick it.
Leket Israel works by rescuing this food from the growers, picking the unwanted fruits and vegetables directly from the fields and getting it to those in need. The yield from these rescues can be immense. Recently, a rescue mission to Moshav Sharona ended in 66,000 pounds of tomatoes that were redistributed to those who were hungry throughout Israel.
The Oct. 18 event, which celebrated the World Food Day theme “2013: Sustainable Food Systems for Food Security and Nutrition,” was held in locations throughout Israel and gave volunteers a chance to have hands-on experience helping the poor. During the four hour pre-Shabbat event, families, seniors and Israelis from all walks of life joined in to help glean fruit and vegetables from the orchards and fields.
Leket Israel also hopes that the day of picking will help raise awareness of the work they do every day rescuing food for the hungry. Under a message thanking participants for their help during the World Food Day event, the organization reminded everyone of the millions of pounds of food they rescue each year.
This year, “Leket Isreal will rescue and distribute over 25 million lbs of produce and perishable goods,” the organization said. Through the help of volunteers, “food, that would have otherwise gone to waste, is redistributed to hundreds of non-profit partners caring for the needy.”