Israel’s longest running social services organization, Colel Chabad, was asked by the government to help the needy and elderly get the food they need to stay alive — this time in a much bigger way — as the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic sweeps its way across the country.
“As director for more than 35 years, I have never seen an operation of this scale,” said Rabbi Sholom Duchman, “with the need to constantly and immediately adjust to new health and safety regulations and government objectives.”
The Ministry of Welfare tapped the organization because Colel Chabad is uniquely qualified to get out massive deliveries of essential foods to the door of those most vulnerable while also processing and distributing ‘food cards’ to be used at groceries nationally.
“They knew the Colel Chabad infrastructure from the National Food Security program was already in place and could be scaled up to add the sourcing, purchasing, packaging and delivery to an additional 112,500 elderly who were sheltering in place, as well as the distribution of over 100,000 food cards,” Duchman explained.
The massive social services operation was launched at the behest of the Israeli government, at a cost of more than NIS 100 million in funding; the contracts were signed prior to the start of the projects.
- Delivery of food crates filled with fruit, vegetables and other goods to the doors of 112,500 elderly, who in addition to their financial struggle, simply cannot go out to shop because of the health concerns. These often involve delivery to upper level apartments. These crates filled with fresh and healthy food are being delivered every 2 weeks over a six-week period.
- Blavatnik Food Bank continues to distribute fresh produce, food staples, and cards to buy food to over 10,800 families, including 6,000 holocaust survivors, in connection with Keren Yedidut
- At least 4,500 elderly people either visit the Colel Chabad soup kitchens to pick up food or receive meals delivered to their home, in connection with the Leket food rescue organization
- 8,000 food cards are distributed to young adults who have a troubled history (drugs, crime…) and don’t have family support – in connection with the Israel Social Services Ministry
- The Blavatnik Food Bank is delivering crates of food to an additional 6,000 families facing food insecurity, in connection with local municipalities.
- Distribution of food cards to 64,200 Muslim families during their month-long Ramadan holiday.
- Distribution of food cards to 18,500 foreign workers together with the JDC, each one to receive between NIS 300-1,000.
This major increase in distribution activity also led to the addition of 350 jobs, through ordering, logistics, delivery, packing, all required in order to implement the various programs.