Life will become a whole lot simpler for 10,800 needy families in Israel.
Colel Chabad will be partnering with Leket Israel, the National Food Bank, to provide Israeli citizens with prepaid charge cards to purchase up to NIS 500 (about $133) in groceries each month. The annual cost of the program will be NIS 60 million (about $16 million).
Previous programs have focused heavily on food baskets and were often limited to Jewish holiday times. The charge cards, now in a pilot program stage, will allow individuals to make their own nutritional choices for their families year-round.
“I am optimistic that this program will be successful, and that we will be able to expand it to provide for all the needy in Israel,” said Haim Katz, Israel’s Minister of Welfare and Social Services.
While the families will spend the first 250 NIS at their own discretion (provided that it be used for food), the second half will be dedicated towards the purchase of donated staples that will be delivered directly to the homes of families in need.
At this stage, the program will serve people in 36 municipalities, including Beersheba and Dimona in the south; Baka al-Gharbiyye, Kfar Qasim and Jerusalem in central Israel; and Safed in the north.
Katz pointed out that the cities selected represent Israel’s diverse population, Jewish and Arab.
Rabbi Mendy Blau, director of Colel Chabad’s Israel programs, called the initiative “a significant breakthrough.”
Representing Israel’s longest-running charity (Colel Chabad was founded in 1788), he attested that “this is the first time that such a sweeping program—both in terms of scope and dignity afforded—has been implemented here in Israel.”
Blau expressed his gratitude to the welfare minister on behalf of the underprivileged families for his “support for this great and crucial project.”