Governments implemented extraordinary measures to help those hurt by the Covid-19 crisis

Leket Israel immediately adapted its operations to the changing reality

Policy Tools for Reducing Food Waste and Loss, in Israel and Around the World

The spreading of the coronavirus led to significant disruptions to supply chains and production systems around the world. This hindered the availability of food while also causing economic damage due to many workplaces having to shut down. In addition, traditional systems for ensuring food security were impacted, such as educational institutions that feed pupils and soup kitchens that were closed, and more. Because of this, many countries saw an increase in the number of food-insecure households, leading them to implement special measures to help companies, organizations, and households get through the crisis.
Many countries to implemented special measures to help companies, organizations, and households get through the crisis.
These policy measures included subsidies for food-insecure populations, transferring emergency grants and budgets to food banks and food rescue organizations, recognizing food banks as an essential service, providing special subsidies to farmers, expanding meals-for-students initiatives in various ways, establishing and expanding initiatives to supply food to the homes of the elderly and self-isolating, and more.
Following is a detailing of the policy tools used in response to the Covid-19 crisis in countries around the world:

Government Subsidies and Budgets

The European Union authorized its members to make use of the Private Storage Aid program under which the European Union pays the storage costs instead of the manufacturers for a limited period of 2 – 6 months. In addition, the European Union relaxed the regulations on competition – for example, it allows dairy companies to plan dairy production together (54).

In addition, the European Institute of Innovation and Technology allocated $7 million for various agricultural projects with an aim to deal with the effects of Covid-19 on the supply chain and to reduce food waste by around 40% (55). These included anti-viral coating on vegetables and smart pricing systems for foods in supermarkets.

In the United States, the federal government invested around US $24 billion to support farmers who were impacted by the crisis. It created the Farmers to Families Food Box Program, which buys food from farmers and delivers food boxes to food banks and NPOs. The program’s budget until January 2021 stood at around US $8.5 billion. As part of the program, food banks distributed 132 million packages, constituting about 3.3 billion meals (56).

The ongoing annual federal budget for food banks stands at about US $650 million. In 2020, an additional US $850 million was approved as emergency aid for dealing with the crisis, with US $600 million exclusively designated for buying food, and another US $873 million for purchasing food products and transferring them to food banks (57).

Due to schools closing as a result of the crisis, children who received free or lower-priced meals at school stopped receiving them. In response, the government issued P-EBT cards for buying food for children. About 3.7 million children enjoyed the benefit at a total value of around US $1.4 billion (58).

The Covid-19 crisis led to disruptions in the food supply chain between farmers, industry, and consumers. Consequently, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) authorized states to declare certain areas as “disaster zones” once the crisis had led to logistical difficulties in supplying food to them. The declaration enabled the USDA to transfer food packages from its inventories to residents, regardless of criteria such as level of income, etc.

Disaster zones were declared in 21 states throughout the United States and food was provided to over seven million people who were severely harmed by the crisis. In addition, the USDA set up an online portal with tips for consumers on how to prevent food waste during the pandemic (59).

57. United States Congress: The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP)- Background and Funding, United States Department of Agriculture: USDA Announces Coronavirus Food Assistance Program  (🔗 Link)
58. California Department of Social Services: Pandemic P-EBT 1.0 Outcomes-Report, US Department of Agriculture, State Guidance on Coronavirus P-EBT, Find Meals for Kids When Schools are Closed  (🔗 Link)
59. United States Department of Agriculture, Disaster Household Distribution (🔗 Link)

In the United Kingdom, to facilitate cooperation between businesses with food surpluses and populations in need of these food surpluses, the government provided an emergency grant of about £5 million to the WRAP’s resource foundation to rescue food surpluses (60).

After schools had closed in the United Kingdom, pupils who routinely received free meals at school continued to receive them from the school via takeaway or delivery. The government also acted to reimburse schools for the additional costs incurred by delivering the meals. If a school did not supply meals, any eligible child could get a £15 weekly voucher to buy food at the supermarket (61).

Likewise, the British government allocated a budget of £16 million to assist food banks and NPOs in helping people who suffer from food insecurity. In addition, it strengthened the social security net for people who were severely impacted by the crisis at a total of £6.5 billion, by increasing the number of installments and extending the credit limits, which helped about 5 million vulnerable households. Likewise, the government allocated £170 million for helping families in need pay their bills and buy food in the winter months, which were transferred through the local authorities. For the summer months, the government allocated about £220 million, an amount expected to help about 50 thousand children.

Additionally, the British government relaxed its regulations and allowed potatoes that were intended for the institutional market to be sold to the private market to prevent waste and loss. It also relaxed the scope of European Union competition rules and enabled dairy manufacturers to cooperate along the supply chain. The government enabled the dairy industry to use the European Union storage practice in an aim to stabilize and balance product markets (62).

60. Wrap Organisation  (🔗 Link)
61. United Kingdom Government: Coronavirus (COVID-19) free school meals additional costs: guidance  (🔗 Link)

In France, the government passed legislation in February 2020, the purpose of which was to obligate food suppliers and the major catering companies to reduce their food waste by 50% by 2025. Smaller suppliers were obligated to meet this deadline by 2030. Similarly, the government created a new “no-food-waste” food label to encourage consumers to purchase food from companies that act to reduce food waste (64).

In April 2020 the French Parliament passed a law raising the tax return ceiling (75%) for 2020–2021 on donations to food banks from €522 to €1000 in an aim to encourage individuals and companies to donate to food banks, whose needs have grown significantly as a result of the coronavirus crisis (65).

In September 2020, the French government launched a program enabling eligible students to receive a scholarship for purchasing one meal a day at the price of €1 (instead of €3.30 per meal) in one of the restaurants or cafeterias operated by the Crous organization in universities and student dorms. Since January 2021, the program has been expanded to offer two meals at the price of €1 to all students, in an aim to help the student population, which was severely impacted by the Covid-19 crisis (66).

As a result of the travel restrictions and the reliance on foreign workers, there was a shortage of working hands in agriculture, which could have increased food waste in agriculture (as there would have been no one to harvest the produce). In response, France began encouraging the unemployed to work in agriculture by enabling them to continue to receive unemployment benefits in addition to their salaries from working in agricultural production.

The French government and European Union announced that the FEAD program’s budget for 2021–2027 designated for France was going to be increased by about 48%. The FEAD program is operated by the European Union, which allocates special budgets to countries with an aim to help needy populations with food, housing, etc. The total budget allocated to France is expected to reach €870 million, out of which €87 million are to be financed by the French government (67).

65. Banque Alimentaire food bank: Banque Alimentair e- Tax incentive for donations  (🔗 Link)

In Italy, the government transferred a budget of €400 million in the form of vouchers for those struggling to buy food. The vouchers were distributed to the needy through the local authorities in Italy (68). At the local level, the local authorities acted to get food delivered to NPOs: for example, when schools were closed, the Village Council of Milan acted to donate food from school kitchens to NPOs. In addition, the Council mediated between restaurants that were forced to shut down and NPOs to get food to the needy.

In Australia, the government transferred budgetary support at a total of AUD $16 million to three food rescue organizations so food could be rescued and given to those in need (69).

The Covid-19 crisis impacted the export of agricultural produce – many farmers were not able to sell their produce due to the lockdown. At the same time, the limited number of flights led to a rise in the cost of aerial transport, rendering it economically unfeasible for some, so that many farmers had to destroy their produce. To deal with the problem and prevent the produce from being destroyed, the Australian government decided to share the international aerial transport costs and thereby lower the costs for exporters.

In Canada, the government transferred a total of CAD $200 million in two installments (CAD $100 million each) to food rescue organizations, food banks, and charities through a dedicated food security fund. In addition, the government initiated a five-year program at a total budget of CAD $50 million for buying cooling equipment, kitchenware, appliances, building community gardens, and storing and distributing food to NPOs in local communities. All of this was done as part of Canada’s national food program.

In addition, the government initiated another program at a budget of CAD $50 million, called the Surplus Food Rescue Program. As part of the program, food surpluses are bought at cost, undergo shelf-life-extension processing (if necessary), and then are distributed to food banks and aid organizations. Another CAD $25 million was allocated as aid in the “Feeding the North” program, which helps the needy in the northern and remote parts of Canada (70).

Likewise, the Canadian government transferred a budget of about CAD $350 million to support community organizations helping the needy during the pandemic, with over 7,100 projects having been funded to date (as of the time of writing this report) (71).

The government also transferred grants of CAD $2,000 to citizens whose income was impacted due to the Covid-19 crisis and grants of CAD $600 to citizens with disabilities – in recognition of the additional costs imposed on them due to the crisis. Simultaneously, the provincial governments transferred grants to their residents. For example, the Province of British Columbia transferred grants of CAD $500 – $1,000 to every resident, depending on their family status and income (72).

72. Canadian Government: Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), One-time payment to persons with disabilities, ממשלת מחוז קולומביה הבריטית: COVID-19 support for individuals and families  (🔗 Link)

NPO Involvement

In Britain, The Felix Project food rescue organization has tripled the amount of food it rescues and now distributes about 1.9 million meals each month. The organization also collaborated with restaurants to rescue food and transfer it to the homeless and medical professionals. In addition, it created the “London Food Alliance” together with two of the largest food banks in London, City Harvest and FareShare. Under this collaboration, London was divided into regions, with each organization being responsible for several regions, while coordinating and cooperating with the other two in distributing the food (73).

The WRAP organization set up a special online portal to help connect suppliers and farmers with food surpluses to food rescue organizations that can distribute the food to the needy. In addition, there is an information portal on how to store and transport food intended for rescue and other information about food rescue (74). Similarly, the Zero Waste Scotland organization launched an online portal to connect food suppliers and farmers with food surpluses in Scotland to NPOs and organizations that needed it (75).

73. The Felix Project and the Fare Share organizations   (🔗 Link)
74. Wrap   (🔗 Link)
75. Zero Waste Scotland: Supporting Scotland’s food and drink businesses  (🔗 Link)

In France, the Linkee food rescue organization began distributing rescued food baskets and meals to students in need who were severely impacted by the crisis. The organization set up a food basket distribution center in Paris, and later on food basket distribution centers were opened in several universities in France. Since October 2020, the organization has distributed over 350 thousand meals and currently distributes about 25 thousand meals a day (76). In addition, Linkee in collaboration with four other NPOs, set up the Raliment collective, which collects unsold food surpluses and cooks them in three dedicated kitchens. The collective has distributed about 60 thousand meals to the needy (77).

In Canada, when the crisis erupted, a number of Daily Bread and North York Harvest food banks were closed, forcing the other food banks that continued operating to absorb those whose needs were unmet. In collaboration with the City of Toronto, new food bank points were opened to maintain the food banks’ former geographical reach and even expand it beyond the number of points that existed prior to the crisis (78).

In the United States, the City Harvest food rescue organization opened 29 emergency centers for distributing food to the needy in the City of New York in neighborhoods at high risk for food insecurity, whose residents also suffered more from Covid-19 infections. The organization rescued and distributed about 57 thousand tons of food between March 2020 and January 2021, more than double the amount it had rescued during the same period in 2019 (79).

The Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF), which usually operates to strengthen local farming communities and lobbies for legislation promoting environmental sustainability, began helping farmers in California who were only selling their produce to the institutional market to sell their produce directly to consumers, in an aim to reduce food waste and the economic loss to farmers. In addition, the organization helps with logistical coordination between farmers to facilitate the supply and donation of agricultural produce (80).

As campuses were closed in March 2020, students set up the FarmLink Project that expanded its reach throughout the entire United States. As part of the project, volunteers collect and harvest agricultural produce and provide it to food banks and those in need. The project has rescued over 5,000 tons of food to date (81).

79. City Harvest – Feeding NYC in the wake of a pandemic, One Year of Feeding New Yorkers, During the COVID-19 Pandemic, New York Times – Facing Food Insecurity on the Front Lines  (🔗 Link)

Aid from the Business Sector in Coping with the Covid-19 Crisis

In the United Kingdom, the Compass Group, which sells food to the institutional market, created a food rescue network in response to the crisis and provides food to food banks and charities. The company has donated over 25 tons of food, or about 60 thousand meals (82).

The Tesco retail chain in collaboration with the NPO Hubbub ran a pilot program lasting six weeks to reduce the waste of food bought online. When calculated for the year, the pilot program led to a reduction of 76 kg of food waste and a savings of about £900 on food purchases per household. The company plans to expand the pilot to cover the rest of the United Kingdom, calling it “The Tesco Food Waste Challenge” (83).

In addition, with the closing of the institutional market due to the various restrictions, the UK Federation of Wholesale Distributors established the Food2Care portal to help old-age homes and other entities that had difficulty finding food suppliers, based on area code and geographical location. This enabled the efficient delivery of food that had no way of being sold (84).

82. Compass Group  (🔗 Link)

In Italy, in May 2020 the NaturaSì retail chain in collaboration with the Legambiente environmental organization launched a pilot for selling “ugly vegetables” under the slogan “CosìPerNatura” (“Like this by Nature”) at a 50% discount in 500 of its branches to reduce food waste. In one month the company sold 795 tons of fruit and vegetables, and following the success of the pilot the company expects to sell 2,500¬–3,000 tons a year (85).

In Canada, the Covid-19 crisis and the decrease in the number of customers led businesses in the food industry to supply local food banks with storage and freezing facilities, thereby increasing the capacity for food rescue, and even donated vehicles for delivering food baskets to those in need (86).

86. Food Banks Canada – A Snapshot of Food Banks in Canada and the Covid-19 Crisis  (🔗 Link)

In France, Danone purchased strawberries and other fruit from farmers that had no demand for their produce, and came out with a special edition of yogurt called “Solidarity Gariguette 2020” together with food retailer Carrefour (87).

Likewise, dairy manufacturer LSDH in collaboration with packaging manufacturers committed to donating a million liters of milk to food banks throughout the country, with the milk production plant donating the milk and packaging services and the packaging manufacturers donating the cartons. The company estimated that about 2 million citizens would benefit from the donation (88).

87. Danone  (🔗 Link)
88. European Food Bank Federation  (🔗 Link)

In the United States, the Walt Disney Company has been donating food surpluses from its two American theme parks as part of the Disney Harvest Program. The program collects and distributes about 2.4 million meals a year from the two parks to the Second Harvest food rescue organization. After the theme parks were closed, the company donated the remaining food surpluses to Second Harvest (89).

The Kroger retail chain entered into a collaboration with local dairies for donating milk surpluses originally intended for the institutional market. The dairies donated about 750 thousand liters of surplus milk while Kroger donated processing and packaging services and distributed the milk to food banks (90).

Retail chain Publix launched a program for purchasing about 160 thousand liters of surplus milk and about 125 tons of surplus agricultural produce from farmers impacted by the crisis and transferring the food to food banks. In addition to this program, the company has donated US $2 million to food banks in the southeast region of the United States (91).

As its branches were closed, McDonald’s and its franchises donated meals and food all over the world:
  • In the United States, over 4,000 tons of food worth about US $12 million were donated to food banks throughout the country.

  • In the United Kingdom, over 300 tons of food and about 100 thousand liters of milk were donated to food banks. In addition, the company donated 79 tons of food or about 188 thousand meals to the FareShare food rescue organization.

  • In Canada, about 115 tons of food were donated to local food banks.

  • In Australia, in response to the Covid-19 crisis, the company and its local suppliers donated food surpluses to the Australian food bank FoodBank, a partnership that has resulted in regular donations of surplus food to the food bank 92.

  • In Russia, the company donated over half a million meals to ambulance workers through its Drive-Thru infrastructure. In addition, the company donated food to hospitals and meals to volunteers providing care for the elderly.
In addition, the company donated food to hospitals and meals to volunteers providing care for the elderly.
90. Supermarket News – Kroger expands Dairy Rescue Program to redirect surplus milk  (🔗 Link)
92. McDonalds  (🔗 Link)

Developments in Israel Regarding Food Waste and Loss during the Covid-19 Crisis

In Israel, the economic impact and restrictions led to a rise in the number of food-insecure households, to which the state responded in several ways. During the first lockdown, budgets from the Ministry of Welfare and Social Affairs were allocated for providing food baskets to those in need, and the government tripled the budget for food baskets during the Tishrei holidays, Passover, and one other holiday during the year. In August 2020, the government approved a budget of NIS 700 million for food-security grants. The money was given to eligible recipients in the form of food vouchers, based on whether they were entitled to pay discounted municipal fees. In addition to all of the above, grants were given to the self-employed, unemployment benefits were extended for those who were financially impacted by the crisis, those in self-isolation were sent food baskets, and more.

Leket Israel

Leket Israel is the largest food rescue organization in Israel. Each year the organization rescues thousands of tons of surplus agricultural produce and millions of meals to feed thousands of Israelis in need throughout the country. To this end, the organization carries out a wide range of food rescue activities, including harvesting fresh produce from farms, collecting agricultural produce from fields and packing houses, and rescuing cooked nutritious meals from hotels, corporate cafeterias, IDF army bases and more.

Leket Israel’s Food Rescue Activity During the Covid-19 Crisis:

As the coronavirus spread, Leket Israel found itself facing major changes in operations. The donations of cooked food stopped abruptly, and at the same time, the needy population was prevented from coming to the soup kitchens due to health guidelines and the fear of leaving their homes and being exposed to the virus. On the other hand, donations of agricultural produce increased significantly, as farmers who were meant to sell their produce to hotels, restaurants, and open markets were left with no ability to do so. At the same time, many volunteers on whom the organization relied canceled their arrival. All of this was accompanied by a sharp increase in public demand for aid, which came from both local authorities and private entities.

Out of an understanding that the reality with which the organization was dealing had changed radically, and so as not to cause harm to the people in need who depended on it, the organization immediately adapted its operations to the new reality:

  • The organization bought and distributed about a million cooked meals directly to the homes of those it supports (mainly elderly people). This required a completely different logistic setup than the one the organization was used to working with, because instead of rescuing food the organization had to purchase food, and instead of distributing it to distribution centers the organization’s volunteers went from door to door delivering sensitive food under very complex working conditions. This was in addition to distributing over 1.4 million rescued meals.

  • Leket Israel rescued and distributed over 18.5 thousand tons of agricultural produce.

  • The retail value of the food that was distributed (purchased + rescued) was about NIS 160 million.

  • The organization worked with around 330 institutions that reached out for help (local authorities, NPOs, and organizations, as opposed to around 200 in routine times). At the height of the period, deliveries were made to about 250 thousand people in need weekly.

  • The organization brought seven catering companies back to work after they had put their employees on unpaid leave.

  • The organization did not put its employees on unpaid leave.

  • Leket Israel relied solely on philanthropy to fund its activities.

Among the needy populations who receive rescued food, there is no consistent access to healthy food and little knowledge or awareness about nutrition and its impact on health.

Leket Israel is considered an international leader in all matters related to rescuing vegetables, fruit, and cooked food.

Leket Israel serves as a hub of knowledge and an example for food rescue organizations around the world and is recognized by the Global Foodbanking Network (GFN) as Israel’s national food rescue organization.

Joseph Gitler, Founder and Chairman of Leket Israel, serves as a member of GFN’s Executive Committee and the organization’s representatives participate in GFN conferences.

Home Front Command and the National Emergency Management Authority

At the start of the crisis, the Home Front Command (HFC) together with the National Emergency Management Authority (NEMA) set up the citizen aid center, a unified operations room with representatives from dozens of aid organizations, local authorities, and government ministries. Having all of these aid organizations and entities concentrated in one room allowed for quick solutions to emerge. The center received the various needs from the different organizations and helped coordinate between them in providing mutual help. In addition, the center helps the various organizations by allocating security forces and Home Front Command resources to support the efforts.

The HFC and NEMA provided about 6.2 million food baskets to the needy (most of them during the first wave) with the help of over ten thousand soldiers. During the first wave, the food baskets mainly consisted of chilled food, whereas in the second wave they mainly consisted of dry food. Added to this was financial support at a scope of around NIS 130 million for buying food through local authorities. In addition, the HFC and NEMA provided 2,000 soldiers in manpower for the logistical centers of NPOs and commercial companies in order to meet the required volume of food that needed to be supplied.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development

Due to the political crisis and the fact that a budget was not approved for the Ministry’s activity, it was difficult to execute work plans and activities to promote policies for reducing food waste and the waste of fresh produce. The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development formerly led an inter-ministerial process with the goal of formulating a policy to reduce food waste and the depreciation of fresh produce, with an emphasis on vegetables and fruit.

The Ministry operated in several ways to reduce food waste, including by:

  • Developing packaging to extend shelf life and reduce food loss throughout the supply chain.

  • Setting quality standards for agricultural produce – produce standardization.

  • Operating an educational program in collaboration with the Ministry of Education to encourage smart consumption of fruit and vegetables in the school system.

  • Researching the problem of food waste and proposing solutions to prevent waste during the selling process of fruit and vegetables in Israel.

  • Initiating a pilot program to examine the feasibility of transferring surplus produce to the needy.

  • Formulating marketing strategies to encourage the selling and buying of “ugly” fruit and vegetables.

  • Publishing guidelines by the Department of Postharvest Storage of Fresh Produce at the Volcani Institute on the proper storage of fruit and vegetables in Israeli households.

  • Publishing guidelines for proper storage of fruit and vegetables for wholesalers and retailers.

  • Encouraging the establishment of farmers’ markets.

Collaborative Initiative with Leket Israel:
The Ministry of Agriculture conducted a collaborative initiative with Leket Israel as part of which Bedouin workers were employed in harvesting activities. Leket Israel trucks transported the harvested crops from the fields to its Logistics Center, where the produce was sorted, packed, and transported by the organization’s trucks to ten distribution centers in six Bedouin communities.

In addition, a Bedouin dietician working on behalf of Leket Israel ran Nutrition for Life workshops adapted to Bedouin culture. Each workshop consisted of four sessions during which the participants were taught the principles of eating healthy on a limited budget and exposed to content related to personal and family conduct. Reports from the field indicate that participants gained a sense of personal empowerment from acquiring these tools and knowledge.

The Ministry of Environmental Protection

The Ministry of Environmental Protection takes measures to reduce food waste and loss. Following are the key actions it took over the past two years:

  • The Ministry led the State of Israel in preparing for the United Nation’s Food Systems Summit that took place in September 2021. The summit aimed to promote sustainable, healthy, and equitable food systems according to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. In this context, the Ministry held broad dialogues with government ministries, civilian bodies, academia, farmers, food industrialists, and more. The outcome of these discussions was a roadmap

  • and the ministers’ statements can be seen on the United Nations website (93).

  • In October 2021, the government approved a 100-step plan for dealing with the climate crisis. The plan includes a chapter on food systems that specifically addresses the issue of reducing food waste and loss.

  • The Ministry’s new waste strategy, published in January 2021, addresses among other things, waste reduction at the source, including food waste. The Ministry is currently formulating a plan to implement its strategy.

  • In November 2020, the Ministry together with Leket Israel published the National Food Waste Report for 2019. For the first time, the report included a chapter on the environment.

  • A policy paper on food waste in Israel – characteristics, causes, and recommendations for affecting systemic change – prepared by The Natural Step (TNS) organization with the support of the Ministry was published.

  • The Ministry funded a series of public workshops throughout the country on how to reduce household food waste. The workshops took place during 2020 in Ashdod, Nazareth, Tel Aviv-Jaffa, Basmat Tab’un, Jisr az-Zarqa and were led by TNS Israel in collaboration with the local authorities.

  • Every year in March, there is a Food Waste Reduction Day in Israel, thanks to the initiative of TNS Israel.

The Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs, and Social Services

In 2017, the National Food Security Initiative was launched in cooperation with Leket Israel and Eshel Jerusalem-Colel Chabad. Under the initiative, benefit cards worth NIS 500 were distributed to around 11 thousand families suffering from severe food insecurity. The pilot program was launched in February 2017 in 36 municipalities around the country, at a total cost of approximately NIS 65 million annually. When a family is accepted into the program, the Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs, and Social Services issues a card loaded with NIS 500 each month via Eshel Jerusalem-Colel Chabad. The card can be used for purchasing food products worth NIS 250 (not including tobacco and alcohol) in select supermarkets and local stores, and buying rescued vegetables, fruit, and dry foods (that are delivered to the families’ homes) with the other NIS 250 (NIS 180 for fruit and vegetables and NIS 70 for dry foods).

In July 2018, the Ministry of Labor, Welfare, and Social Services published a research (94) report examining the effectiveness of the National Food Security Initiative. Of the 968 families involved in the study, about 150 families benefited from increased food security, with some 70 families moving from severe food insecurity to moderate food insecurity and about 80 families no longer experiencing food insecurity.

The authors of the study noted that the scope of assistance is relatively low and therefore many families continue to suffer from food insecurity. Approximately 61% of the families used the resources that became available to consume food rather than other goods and services. This reveals that the current level of assistance is insufficient to relieve them of food insecurity. During the Covid-19 crisis, the collaboration with Leket Israel for providing rescued fresh produce stopped and was partially re-established in May 2021.

94. National Food Security Initiative: Evaluation Study, Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs and Social Services, 2018

The Government Companies Authority

In January 2019, the Government Companies Authority instructed government companies to discuss plans for creating social value. The Authority published a corporate social responsibility toolkit for government companies, which included information on rescuing food from catering companies and donating it to the needy. This was the result of the joint activity of the Yedid Association, Leket Israel, and the Government Companies Authority and based on the understanding that when a government company donates its surplus, this draws the management’s attention to wasted resources that usually go unnoticed, thereby facilitating self-improvement and the streamlining of operations. In May 2019, the Government Companies Authority sent the boards of government companies a list of collaborations with government ministries on “Shared Value” projects and instructed them to discuss them.

Legislative Proposal: The Distribution of Surplus Unsold Food Fit for Human Consumption, 5769-2019

In 2019, Legislative Proposal: The Distribution of Surplus Unsold Food Fit for Human Consumption, sponsored by MK Michal Rozin was presented to the Knesset for a preliminary discussion. This proposal requires food suppliers to contract with food rescue organizations to distribute unsold food fit for human consumption to the needy. It also regulates the conditions for transferring the food surpluses to their destination.

Under this proposal, the food supplier and the food rescue organization would not be held civilly or criminally liable for damage caused due to the distribution of surplus food.

A similar law has been in place in France since 2016, requiring all supermarkets with a sales area exceeding 400 square meters to donate surplus food to food banks instead of discarding or destroying it. Italy, Poland, Switzerland, and the Czech Republic have enacted similar laws, which have led to a reduction in food waste in supermarkets chains and increased donations to local food rescue organizations. Likewise, in 2018, in Missouri in the United States, a legislative proposal was raised requiring big businesses in the state to donate their food surpluses.

The Food Donation Act

In October 2018, the Knesset approved the Food Donation Act in a third reading. The purpose of the law is to shield the entire food donation chain, from the food donors to the NPO, its employees, and its volunteers, from liability for damage that may be caused by the donated food, provided they meet food safety standards and the provisions of the law.