Ra’anana (TPS) – Nearly two tons of dairy products were donated to Israel’s national food bank, Leket Israel, for the upcoming Jewish holiday of Shavuot on Sunday – on which Jews traditionally consume healthy helpings of dairy. Strauss Group, one of Israel’s leading dairy distributors, passed out large quantities of dairy products, including cheese, yogurt, and other dairy delicacies to feed Israel’s poor over the holiday.
“We are extraordinarily pleased with this generous donation of dairy in honor of Shavuot, and we are very appreciative of the loyal partnership that we have with Strauss Group throughout the year,” commented Shai Davaroff, vice president of logistics at Leket Israel.
Shavuot, also known as the Festival of Weeks or Pentecost, is the biblical holiday celebrating the annual grain harvest and, according to Jewish tradition, commemorates the day on which the Ten Commandments were given to the Israelites from atop Mt. Sinai. Somewhere along the way, a custom developed to consume copious amounts of dairy – cheesecake being a popular Shavuot treat – though the precise reason remains obscure.
Davaroff told Tazpit Press Service (TPS) that Strauss Group contributes dairy products throughout the year to Leket Israel and that this year the company had extra stock to give out.
Leket Israel, whose primary logistics center is based in Ra’anana, is the country’s largest food rescue organization, and works to alleviate nutritional insecurity among Israel’s poor by redistributing food that would have gone to waste. The organization has forged partnership with catering companies, restaurants, bakeries, supermarkets, corporate cafeterias, private farmers, local green grocers, and wholesale food suppliers that donate surplus food.
Volunteers and staff members then collect the donated products and distribute and deliver the food to soup kitchens, food pantries, day care and senior citizen centers, as well as homeless shelters and other non-profit organizations serving the needy.
Lavaroff noted that in the spirit of Shavuot, Leket Israel also has volunteers and staff gleaning the land’s produce during the weeks leading up to the holiday as well as throughout the rest of the year. The initiative is called Project Leket, began in 2005 and has thousands of people picking in orchards and fields, and rescuing thousands of tons of agricultural crops left to rot at the end of each season.
“We have volunteers and workers working fields across Israel, from the Arava to the Golan. They go to pick whatever produce has been slated to be thrown away because it may be deformed, for example,” said Davaroff.
Every month, Leket Israel collects 1,000 tons of agricultural produce and 146,000 hot meals from restaurants and caterers. The organization distributes rescued food to over 175,000 people in need on a weekly basis through its partnership with 195 organizations across the country.
“It’s a win-win situation for everyone involved,” concluded Davaroff.