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Study shows nearly one million Israelis faced food insecurity in 2021

Students prepare food packages for needy Israelis for the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah, Sept. 21, 2022. (Photo: Michael Giladi/Flash90)

Israel’s National Insurance Institute (NII) released results of a study on Tuesday that showed food security affecting nearly one million Israelis in 2021, including 665,000 children.

The report showed Israel’s Arab community hardest hit by the phenomenon. The United Nations Committee on World Food Security defines food insecurity as a situation where “citizens lack physical, social, and economic access to consistent, sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their preferences and dietary needs for an active and healthy life.” 

The study showed improvements in 2021 from 2016, when 18.1% of all families in Israel reported food insecurity compared to just over 16% two years ago. The rate for children also dropped from 26.3% in 2016 to 21.1% in 2021. 

Regarding families with children, in 2021, 19% experienced food insecurity, with 8.5% suffering from severe food insecurity.

Among the elderly, 12% of those passed retirement age suffered from food insecurity in 2021.

The NII study was conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic, when many thousands of Israelis had either been fired or placed on unpaid leave. Employment rates have since improved, but the cost of living has risen considerably.  

According to the NII study, 42.4% of Arab families in Israel faced food insecurity in 2021 – almost three times higher than the general population. By contrast, food security among ultra-Orthodox Jews, whose poverty rates are similar to the Arab population, improved from 77% to 84%.

In terms of geographic location, Jerusalem and northern Israel, which both have large Arab populations, were the most affected: 27% of the population in the north suffered from food insecurity and 14.4% suffered from severe food insecurity. Jerusalem saw 23% insecurity, including 9.5% with severe insecurity.

Addressing the study results, former Deputy Minister of the Interior Rabbi Yoav Ben-Tzur said, “This is a shocking and painful statistic that must be addressed urgently. We see the weaker populations in society, in the periphery and in the cities, collapsing under the heavy burden of the cost of living and giving up basic meals due to severe economic hardship.”

Ben-Tzur promised to urgently work to improve the situation but offered no details regarding how he intended to accomplish the task.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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