Leket Israel: Get Back to Our Roots
By Molly Livingstone
I’ve never thought of myself as a farmer. The closest I’ve come to being a farmer is singing ‘Old McDonald,’ and even then, I don’t get the animal sounds right.
But volunteering, harvesting fruits and vegetables that would otherwise go to waste, that I never thought I could do. Turns out I could, and I did, with Leket Israel, collecting and distributing surplus nutritious food in Israel to those who need it.
And it’s not just me that can do it, it’s open to anyone in Israel, visitors or citizens who want to help out with rescuing food. For me and my family, it was a great activity during a long weeks of vacation. From the old to the young, everyone can take part in taking apart a field of vegetables that would otherwise be dumped in the trash or just rot in the field.
It all started with Joseph Cutler, a co-founder of the organization, who rescued meals from catering halls and corporate cafeterias and distributing the food out of his Subaru car. The meals were given to local nonprofits that serve the needy. With success, the car became trucks that were bringing the food to Leket Israel’s first warehouse, which opened in 2004, before being redistributed to those in need. By 2008, the food was rolling in and the need for a forklift was real. Then, in 2012, with more and more food, finally came the time to acquire their first sorting machine, which cut down on work time and increase efficiency. Today Leket Israel has a newly renovated Logistics Center with increased storage and workspace for employees and volunteers.
For volunteers it is an amazing experience to literally get their hands dirty and understand how they are contributing to Israeli society, feeding those in need, and making a real difference for the population.
With every beet pulled from the ground, my kids got to have a fun experience, but more than that, they took part in real tikun olam, repairing the world. I was a proud momma when my sons fought over who pulls out the next vegetable, who gets to fill up the bucket, and who gets to take part in a mitzvah changing lives.
Educational Activity: Letter of Love
Show your support for families in need across Israel by writing a letter to go along with the saved produce, those in need will receive from Leket Israel. Share your hopes and thoughts for these families to let them know you are thinking about them, across the world.
Questions for the Classroom:
- How is saving crops and donating them to those in need Tzedakah?
- How can we continue to cut down on food waste, whether it’s leftovers at dinner or catered food at a wedding?
- If you could make a law about food waste, what would you write?
So, you want to Show Israelis You Care? Israel Forever encourages you to take part in this great volunteering opportunity any time you are in Israel. Bring your friends, family, synagogue, or random tourists from your hostel and take action. If you’re not visiting Israel anytime soon (shame on you!), then you can donate!
Molly Livingstone is a freelance reporter and comedian, not to mention a mother of two, living in Jerusalem. While playing all those roles, the script remains the same, showing the world the Israel that she sees everyday, from the people and places, to the culture and definitely the food.