A long-running campaign begun 10 years ago by Leket Israel that was led by MK Uri Maklev with support from MK Eli Elalouf on Monday became a reality. The Food Donation Act was passed in the Knesset plenum, on the heels of World Food Day (October 16th). The law was vigorously promoted by MKs Moshe Gafni, Yechiel ‘Hilik’ Bar, Orly Levi Abekasis, Shuli Mualem and Mordechai Yogev, in cooperation with Leket Israel.
The Food Donation Act, similar to the United States Bill Emerson Act, absolves food donors, non-profit organizations and staff and volunteers at the non-profit organizations from criminal and civil liability, provided they adhere to the food safety requirements set forth by the Ministry of Health.
Israel joins a group of only four other countries in the world (US, Canada, New Zealand and Italy) who have a similar law which encourages the collection of excess food and protects the donors and organizations that distribute it.
As written in the explanatory notes of the law, over the years, Israel’s population suffering from food insecurity has grown and includes many children. Restaurants, banquet halls, corporate dining rooms, retail chains and hotels avoid donating excess food and prefer to let it go to waste for fear of civil or criminal liability for damage caused by the food donated.
“In Israel, 1.8 million people suffer from food insecurity while 2.3 million tons of food at a value of NIS 19.5 billion (5+ billion USD) is thrown away annually,” said Gidi Kroch, Leket Israel’s CEO. “The Food Donation Act opens the door to hundreds of organizations and businesses that have quality and substantial amounts of surplus food but do not currently donate out of fear from liability.
“According to estimates, the law will triple the scope of food donations, and will expand food rescue on a national level. In this lies a tremendous opportunity to address food insecurity and reduce social gaps in Israel,” he added.
“In Israel, every third child suffers from hunger and every fourth person from poverty,” noted MK Uri Maklev. “We have to make an effort to find a solution. There are solutions; restaurant owners, hotels and organizations should not be throwing away food since destroying food is like destroying the soul.”
“I bless everyone who participated in promoting this law,” said MK Eli Elalouf, Chairman of the Labor, Welfare and Health Committee. “It is a huge milestone and I am proud to be a partner in this initiative.”