Report Shows: 2.5M Ton of Food Wasted in 2020 in Israel

Israelis help prepare food packages for those in need, following the economic difficulties and high unemployment due to restrictions set up to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in 2020. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Nearly 2.5 million tons of wasted food cost Israel $6 billion in 2020, according to the annual report from Leket Israel, released on Monday.

This amounts to $1,150 per household, the country’s leading food bank, which published in partnership with the Environmental Protection Ministry, said.

The figure represents 35% of the food produced in the country, half of which was thrown away when it was still edible and salable.

One in five Israeli households reportedly suffered from food insecurity last year, Leket Israel said.

The report takes a stand against the previous government’s decision to pay allowances to the entire population during periods of confinement, explaining that it would have been wiser to focus financial assistance on those in greatest difficulty.

“It would have been much more economically efficient to fund food distribution programs rather than leaving needy families to struggle on a daily basis,” the report said.

“The worsening problem of food waste and insecurity has only accelerated since the start of the pandemic, stressing the need to include halving waste reduction as a national cause, by the end of the decade,” the report concludes.

Leket Israel President Gidi Kroch called on Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to implement an inter-ministerial food relief plan.

In recent years Israel saw the emergence of several innovative technology solutions designed to relieve food waste and insecurity.

MK Rabbi Yaakov Asher said Monday at a meeting of the Knesset’s Economics Committee that he proposes to examine the possibility of recognizing farmers’ food donations as a tax contribution worth money.

In the distant past, he said, they tried to present the “bal tashchis” law in the Knesset, which stipulated that food should not be thrown away due to economic considerations. “I will submit this law again today, and I invite the MKs to join it.

“Another special meeting should be scheduled in the committee to discuss saving food and examining how to establish a government team, inter-ministerial, with an economic orientation that will formulate decisions and initiate a new process that will have a positive effect on both the economy and help reduce the cost of living,” said Rabbi Asher.

The chairman of the Economics Committee, MK Michael Bitton, responded to the request and announced that he would schedule a special discussion on the issue.

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