JERUSALEM – In a bid to assist hundreds of food charities in feeding the poor, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday launched a 100 million shekels (over 25 million U.S. dollars) national “food credit card” program.
The pre-loaded cards, similar to store gift cards, will only be useable at supermarkets, and only for purchasing foodstuff.
The sum loaded on the card will be pegged to the individual’s financial status, Welfare and Social Affairs Minister Moshe Kachlon said.
The elderly and underage are to be handled by a separate food agency ethics committee, officials said at Monday’s press conference.
In May, non-profit organization distributing food for the poor held an emergency conference in Tel Aviv, amid official discussions over the 2013 budget.
At the meeting, the organizations declared they were on the verge of collapse and demanded that Kachlon allocate a budget for their activities to help fight “nutritional insecurity.”
The cards are intended to replace tens of thousands of food baskets handed out by the charities, particularly before the Sabbath and the Jewish holidays.
A similar program was considered two years ago, but was dropped when Finance Ministry funding was not forthcoming, according to The Jerusalem Post.
In 2010, more than 433,000 families, or over 1.7 million people in the country, lived below the poverty line, according to National Insurance Institute statistics. (Xinhua)