Impacts of Hunger
A critical component to a healthy life is nutrition. From birth, the intake of vital nutrients is essential to the growth and development of a healthy individual. Good nutrition, particularly in the first three years of life, is important in establishing and maintaining a good foundation that has implications on a child’s future physical and mental health, academic achievement, and economic productivity. Unfortunately, food insecurity is an obstacle that threatens that critical foundation.
Children, Seniors, Immigrants
The major concentrations of hunger in Israel are to be found among children of large families – particularly where the father is deceased or absent; senior citizens, particularly those who are Holocaust survivors or who arrived as refugees from Russia and Ethiopia at an advanced age; and immigrants in general who confront the many challenges of learning a new language, retooling their skillsets, and adjusting to an entirely new culture. In the Israel, one out of three children lives in a household with food insecurity, which means they do not always know where they will find their next meal. According to the National Insurance Institute, in 2012, 817,200 children under 18 in Israel live in this condition – unable to consistently access nutritious and adequate amounts of food necessary for a healthy life.
In 2012, 22.7 percent of seniors (173,956 older adults age 65 and older) lived below the poverty line. In 2011, according to the National Insurance Institute, seniors make up 21% of people in poverty.
It is a common misperception that poor people are unemployed. Salaries in Israel lag way behind those in more developed countries, yet the cost of food, clothing and shelter is higher than it is in the United States. What’s more, the average family in Israel is significantly larger than in the rest of the developed world. Couples with more than four children are common, and those with 8,9,10 children and more are far more common here than in other Jewish communities. For such families, even the combined paychecks of two parents are insufficient to make ends meet. It is a silent epidemic that affects over 53% of poor households in Israel.