Hunger in Israel
Israel’s economy is indisputably very strong. Despite being the size of New Jersey, the Jewish State has the second-most high-tech startups on Earth and has unemployment charting at 4.8 percent. While this data may be encouraging, the economic report fails to mention the issue of hunger in Israel.

The National Insurance Institute reported that almost a quarter of Israel’s population lives below the poverty line, putting this country among the poorest nations of all OECD countries. As many as a third of Israeli children are impoverished.

Along with staggering beggary, about 110,000 of the 444,000 poor Israeli families live day by day with a shortage of food supplies.

In light of these conditions, Social Affairs Minister Haim Katz passed an ambitious plan to tackle food insecurity in a situation starving for solutions.

The four-month-old National Food Security Program aims to combat hunger in Israel by granting subsidies to households with limited purchasing power. Households are deemed eligible if their income is near poverty levels — Israel’s Social Affairs Ministry will give $85 per month to families that qualify.

Katz’s lofty goals will not be palpable for a while. The National Nutritional Security Council, an advisory group within the Social Affairs Ministry, will only fund vouchers for around 20,000-25,000 families, leaving over 75,000 families without assistance.

The United States allocates $3.1 billion annually in foreign aid to the Jewish State, yet 100 percent of the funding goes to “peace and security.” In addition, 25 percent of Israel’s defense budget comes from American taxpayers.

Without allocating any funds to food security, the U.S. government announced in July that it will grant Israel “the largest pledge of military assistance to any country in U.S. history.”

Although evident why the requisite of renewing this military assistance must occur, the money’s allocation unfortunately neglects the 444,000 families who suffer from severe hunger in Israel.

Providing humanitarian aid to malnourished Israelis is not impossible. Americans who are keen to contact their elected officials can incite change towards improving Israel’s food insecurity.

Calling Congress can have a potentially huge impact on hunger in Israel. Legislators like Betty McCollum admit to being influenced by constituents when hundreds of them dial to enact legislation.

Famished families in Israel are not just hungry for food, they are ravenous for change. Investing in food security is investing in stability, and that stability can also help bolsters Israeli consumers in an American-dominated market.

Noah Levy

Photo: Flickr

what-is-a-true-heroBelieve it or not, reducing global poverty can take less than 20 minutes. Any individual can learn how to fight global poverty by contacting his or her congressional leaders to change the way that foreign policy is currently addressed.

Each state contains two senators and a population-based number of representatives. Simply check out websites such as Congress Merge or The Borgen Project to find the names of congressional leaders in each district.

The first and easiest way to reach your congressional leaders is by phone and email. Senators and Representatives act as the congressional voice of the people in their districts, which means their actions reflect the desires of the citizens.

Calling and emailing congressional leaders about specific issues helps them to better serve the public. Offices record each call or email regarding issues, and then pass the data on to the congressional leader.

Weekly calls and emails significantly increase a bill’s chances of gaining congressional support. A call takes about 30 seconds and an email takes just a few minutes.

You may also wish to take your advocacy a step further by meeting with your congressional leaders in person. Meeting face-to-face with a member of Congress can be intimidating. Not surprisingly, congressional leaders have packed schedules and may be busy, but the task is not impossible.

Most congressional leaders specify their preferred method of contact on their websites. Maintain vigilance with calls, emails or faxes until the Congressional leader agrees to a meeting.

Before meeting with a member of Congress, research him or her. Learn his or her interests, which committees he or she belongs to and his or her stance on previous bills. Form an idea of where the member stands with the bill you are lobbying.

Finally, word of mouth is an excellent technique to raise awareness. Teach your friends, classmates, family members or coworkers how to call and email congress to bring poverty reduction bills to the forefront of congressional leaders’ agendas.

The Borgen Project is currently building support for the following bills:

The Electrify Africa Act: Only 5 percent of sub-Saharan Africans have access to electricity. That means roughly 1.3 billion people still resort to open cook fires for food, warmth and light. The Electrify Africa Act will “encourage African countries to provide first-time access to electricity and power services for at least 50,000,000 people in sub-Saharan Africa by 2020.”

The Food for Peace Reform Act: This act consists of amending the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 and reforming the Food for Peace Program to increase funding and more efficiently transport food to disaster-stricken areas.

The Global Food Security Act: One in nine people goes hungry every day. Children make up the majority of this statistic. The Global Food Security Act will “reduce global poverty and hunger, achieve food and nutrition security, promote inclusive, sustainable, agricultural-led economic growth, improve nutritional outcomes, especially for women and children, [and] build resilience among vulnerable populations.”

The Reach Every Mother and Child Act: Hundreds of mothers, infants and toddlers die each day from pregnancy complications and other preventable causes. The Reach Every Mother and Child Act is designed to “implement policies to end preventable maternal, newborn, and child deaths globally” by designing more effective programs in high-risk areas and funding innovative tools and research.

Sarah Prellwitz

Sources: Borgen Project 1, Borgen Project 2, Think Progress, Borgen Project 3, Borgen Project 4, Congress, Congress Merge, PreservationNation
Photo: Pinterest

 Check pages like The Borgen Project’s Legislation & Programs page to keep up to date with pieces of legislation already identified as relevant to the interests of eradicating global poverty.

2. Do your own research. Look up specific pieces of legislation and actually try to read them. Become familiar with keywords. This might be a little intimidating but take a look at GovTrack to see what legislation is introduced, voted on, and has been passed or sent to committees. You can even subscribe to track specific keywords. I suggest Foreign Aid and Global Development. You’ll get a few emails per week, but unless you’re tracking a lot of keywords you won’t be inundated.

3. Make use of the vast amount of research other people do. Watch the news and stay up to date with bigger pieces of legislation in all other subjects. Subscribe to other nonprofits’ emailing lists to be informed when a relevant bill or amendment is going to be voted on. is one such example.

4. Know who your Congress members are and what committees they sit on. Every citizen of the United States has one representative (for district) and two senators (per state). Take a look at Who Is My Enter your zip code or search by state, and put your representative and senators in your phone. Look up your Congress members’ web sites and take note of what committees they sit on.

5. Call as often as — and more often than — you email or write. Calling is immediate. Emails get buried, and letters take a while to get to an office, much less opened. When you write or email, you are likely to get a delayed stock reply. While it can help you learn about your Congress member’s priorities, it also comes only as fast as snail mail!

Once you’re armed with knowledge, get in a routine of contacting your representatives. When you do call, specific is always better, but if you don’t have a specific piece of legislation to call about, don’t lose your voice. Ask for increased funding to the Millennium Challenge Account. Ask for the representative to stand for balanced funding cuts instead of unevenly taking funding from foreign aid. Ask for the representative to support poverty-focused aid. Your representatives don’t just vote on legislation, they have a large responsibility to co-sponsor or introduce it. Get your voice out there!

– Naomi Doraisamy
Source: GovTrack,, Who Is My Representative
Source: Snow Code