Leket Israel: Legislating for Success
And when she had risen up to glean Boaz commanded his young men saying “let her glean even among the sheaves and do not embarrass her” Ruth 2:15
As harvesters would go through their fields, some crops would fall off the branches and unto the ground. In order to make sure the poor still had food to eat, they would be allowed into the farm to glean (which is ‘Leket’ in Hebrew) anything they could pick up. It was a law allowing the poor to find food to eat making sure no one would starve as commanded in Leviticus 19:9-10,
“And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not wholly reap the corners of thy field, neither shalt thou gather the gleanings of thy harvest. And thou shalt not glean thy vineyard, neither shalt thou gather every grape of thy vineyard; thou shalt leave them for the poor and stranger: I am the Lord your God.”
Now in the modern day it is not nearly so simple, modern food safety and distribution means it is much more complex practically, as well as legally. But the commandment from God must still be obeyed.
The basic logistical problem has been fear. Across Israel farmers, the owners of hotel chains and others with surplus food are aware of the needs of those around them but they have been hesitant to help. Israeli law was set up in such a way that if there were any issue with the food the donor would be legally liable for any damages – even if the donor acted in good faith and obeyed all of the relevant food safety laws. This fear of liability was a wall between their willingness and ability to help.
We are pleased to say, after working with the Israeli government for several years, we have had a law passed which removes this fear, allowing farmers and others to give to Leket without anxiety. This “Good Samaritan” law comes at a critical time.
According to Member of the Knesset (the Israeli Parliament) Uri Maklev, who helped in having the bill passed, “in Israel, every third child suffers from hunger and every fourth person from poverty.” Approximately 1.8 million Israelis are considered “nutritionally insecure” a polite euphemism meaning that many people, from at risk teens to elderly Holocaust survivors, live on as little as one meal a day. This is made more stark when one considers that each year over 2.3 million tonnes of perfectly good food are wasted in Israel each year.
The bill Leket has been working toward removes this burden. Similar to such laws in America, donors who act in good faith and obey all the relevant health regulations, will no longer be liable for any issues involving the food they send to us to distribute across Israel.
Leket Israel’s CEO Gidi Kroch says the following, “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.”
We are strongly encouraged by the Israeli government’s commitment to the poor across Israel shown by this bill. We are also thankful for the continuing support of Christians who love Israel who are helping us expand our fleet of trucks to meet the increased opportunity to help Israelis in need.