The Israeli Center for Food Security-NGO

In 2006 the Center for Food Security in Israel (ICFS) was founded by faculty members and students of Ben Gurion University of the Negev and Jewish and Arab community activists. Many of these activists were involved in intensive informal activity to promote food security policy and programs since 2001. The year which Dr Roni Kaufman and his students conducted the first research which used scientific measures and identified the existence of high scale food insecurity and hunger problem in the Negev area. The founders of the center played a major role in the development of the National School Hot Lunch Program and in organizing action groups in food insecurity stricken areas and in mobilizing hundreds of students for media and advocacy campaigns demanding more governmental programs for the food insecure.

Since then, the Israeli Center for Food Security has striven to ensure that the Israeli government takes responsibility for the population’s food security. Research has shown that food support charities are no alternative for government intervention.Today, it is the only food security group in the country that combines advocacy, community organization, and professional training.

It is a unique collaboration between researchers from the Department of Social Work at Ben-Gurion University, professionals and members of the local community. Through public education and community mobilization it aims to unite those most affected by the problem and those who want to do something about it.

The Center does not distribute food.

Key Accomplishments

In 2002, the ICFS was responsible for introducing the concept of food security into Israeli public discourse. Today the term is widely used and there is far greater awareness of the problem.

In 2004, following intense lobbying from ICFS, the Knesset passed a law guaranteeing a hot and nutritious daily meal to hundreds of impoverished schoolchildren. Although the law was not as comprehensive as we would have liked, it marked an important step in the struggle for food security in Israel.

Since 2011, As a result of ICFS lobbying and research, the National Insurance Institute has begun measuring the levels of food insecurity in Israel.

ICFS were one of the organizations responsible for organizing the first Food Security Day at the Knesset in February 2012.

Major Projects

Alternative Passover Seder: In collaboration with a number of other organizations, ICFS holds an annual alternative Passover Seder and a march at the Knesset. The goal of these events is to demand the restoration of food security in Israel. In March 2010 there were over 500 participants, including MKs, community activists, academics, and students. Both events were widely covered in the media.

Local Action Groups: ICFS operated  four community groups in the Negev, which were responsible for food security advocacy in their area. They are located in Be’er Sheva, Yeruham, and in the Bedouin villages of Hura and Segev Shalom. The centers’ activists are leaders of local voluntary organizations, professionals, and people who suffer from food insecurity. They conduct surveys on food security in the local area, raise awareness of the problem, and initiate projects to improve the situation. Today we operate primarily in Beer – Sheva, and we are taking part in the Negev coalition, which promotes sustainable local economy.