Food Security in Israel

food security map EThe data is from the latest (2012) Food Security Survey by the Israeli National Insurance Institute of Israel, and from the National Food Security Survey (2012) by USDA.

The development of food insecurity and hunger in wealthy Western countries such as the US, Australia, Canada, and Israel has been linked to the decline of the welfare state and shifting economic and social policies.

A national study in Israel shows that 18.7% of Israeli households experience food insecurity in 2011, and it is tends to be higher among clients of social welfare agencies, recipients of welfare benefits, the unemployed, new immigrants, alcohol-dependent or drug-addicted individuals, and the homeless.

Between 1998 and 2010 the number of children living below the poverty line increased by 60 per cent; today hundreds of thousands of children experience hunger.

A recent Israeli governmental report indicated that the spread of the food insecurity problem was related to major cutbacks in social security benefits and in government investment in social budgets, the erosion of employment income in the wake of changes in the labor market, and the significant rise in food prices. In general, the government’s response to the problem has been to rely on community and voluntary activity, a policy that has led to more soup kitchens and food distribution centers.  Food security means that all people at all times have access to enough food for an active and healthy life. It is considered a basic human right under several covenants of international law, which state that nutritionally safe foods need to be accessible in socially acceptable ways.  Food-secure individuals and families should not have to resort to emergency food supplies, begging, stealing, and/or scavenging for food.

Unlike malnutrition, which characterizes many underdeveloped countries, food insecurity is not life-threatening; it does, however, affect daily functioning as well as the physical, social and psychological well-being of individuals and families.  Food insecurity reduces the short- and long-term physical and mental health status of individuals and families and causes hunger, fatigue and illness.

  • Is food insecurity status in Israel better or worse than in the USA?

In Israel, the food insecurity status is much more severe than in the USA! Especially as far as the rate of families suffering severe food insecurity with expressions of hunger, 50% higher in Israel than in the USA.

  • fig 1How many children suffer from food insecurity in Israel?

    Every third child suffers food insecurity – about 755,000 children. About 300,000 children in Israel suffer severe food insecurity, with expressions of hunger.


    • How many people suffer from food insecurity in Israel?

    Every fourth citizen in Israel suffers from food insecurity – about 1,766,000 people.  750,000 people suffer from severe food insecurity, with expressions of hunger.


  • How many families suffer from food insecurity in Israel?

Every fifth family in Israel suffers from food insecurity – in total almost 550,000 families.

243,000 families out of them suffer from severe food insecurity.


  • What types of families with children are at high risk for food insecurity?  Families with children are a risk group for food insecurity. The rate of food insecurity among them is 50% higher than among childless families. Moreover, about half of the children in 4 children or more families as well as children of single parent families live in food insecurity.


  •  What types of families with children are at the high risk of severe food insecurity?

Single parent families and families with 4 children or more are at the greatest risk.

About fifth to sixth of the children in these families live in severe food insecurity and suffer from various expressions of hunger.

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  • Which population groups are at high risk for food insecurity?

In Israel about half of the Arab families as well as about a quarter of the orthodox Jew families live in a state of food insecurity.


  • Do families with provider and allowances suffer from food insecurity?

Income support payment is not sufficient a solution for food insecurity and half of its receivers suffer from food insecurity. Unfortunately neither is Income from work enough to provide food security: more than 435,000 families with at least one provider are in a state of food insecurity: third of the families in which the head of the family is employed and seventh of the families in which the 2 heads of the families are employed.



  • To what extent are people who suffer from food insecurity helped by any Aid Organizations?

A high rate of about half of the people who suffer from food insecurity don't get help from any aid organization.