Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Israeli Poverty

New figures released by the National Insurance Institute state that 1.7 million Israelis, including over 800,000 children, are living in poverty. In Jerusalem, 55 percent of children live below the poverty line, followed by similar numbers in northern and southern Israel.
“How can we feel good that there is some lessening of people living in poverty in Israel when the numbers are still shocking?” Goldie Sternbuch, Director of Overseas Relations for Meir Panim, asked Breaking Israel News. “Meir Panim’s restaurant-style soup kitchens located throughout the country are still filling up each day with hungry people. Our top priority is giving hungry people a hot, nutritious meal on a daily basis,” continued Sternbuch. “This is not only a life-saving act; it also gives marginalized people a social outlet and lets them know that they are cared about.”
Meir Panim annually serves 390,000 hot meals at its “free restaurants.” The organization also delivers 168,000 Meals-on-Wheels to homebound, disabled and elderly people. 

Individuals in Israel who net a monthly paycheck of NIS 3,260 ($920) or less are considered poor. Couples earning less than NIS 5,216 ($1,480) and families of five making less than NIS 10,000 ($2,800) are statistically impoverished.

Meir Panim notes an increase in the number of working poor who are asking for help. Though unemployment rates shrank from 5.3 percent to 4.8 percent between 2015 and 2016, poverty among the employed rose slightly. “We have noticed a deterioration in the basic standard of living of Israelis over the years,” shared Sternbuch with Breaking Israel News. “Though we regularly help single-parent families, even those with two working parents struggle to keep food in their kitchens. We help them as well.”

Joint (Arab) List MK Dov Khenin vowed to seek another increase of the minimum wage, which now stands at NIS 5,300 ($1,500) a month. “The bleak figures in the poverty report among working families show that the minimum wage is still not sufficiently high and must be raised further,” he said.


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