If you really want to do something for a good cause on your visit to Israel, there are plenty of volunteering opportunities that will gladly take on your services for as long as you can spare. One of the biggest and most worthwhile is Leket, the leading non-profit food rescue organization in Israel.
We spent an early morning with them as part of our trip across Israel, complete with 3 kids, and found ourselves picking tomatoes for those less fortunate. It was hot work, but armed with the knowledge we were having an impact on other people’s lives drove us onwards and upwards! And we were well looked after too, with one of Leket’s volunteers showing us exactly what we needed to do.
Leket has four main centers but volunteering is typically left to the many various fields at Rehovot (the produce you pick for the needy will, of course, depend on the season) or to their logistics center in Ra’anana. To determine your exact task and location, first contact the boys and girls at Leket via this contact page. The main time slots available to you are as follows:
- Gleaning in the fields: Sunday-Thursday, 8am-5pm in two-hour sessions.
- Sorting and packing in the main logistics center in Ra’anana: Sunday- Thursday, 10am–12pm and 2pm-4pm.
- Collecting hot meals: Sunday- Thursday, 7pm–12am, or on Friday afternoons.
Who the heck are Leket?
Leket Israel, recognized as the largest non-profit food bank in Israel, is a charitable institution distributing surplus food to the needy.
The main thrust of their work is to rescue edible food waste to save money and ensure that not one needy person stays hungry. Around 195 non-profit organizations in Israel have partnered with Leket to provide nutritious food to more than 175,000 people every week.
According to Leket Israel’s 2018 Food Waste and Rescue Report, food loss in Israel stands at 2.3 million tons worth NIS 19.5 billion (US $5.6 billion), about 33% of Israel’s food production. 1.1 million tons of food valued at NIS 7 billion (US $2 billion) is suitable for rescue.
Some 20,000 volunteers from the United States now come annually to help, with some 56,000 volunteers in all. Apparently, more than 50 per cent of these are travelers who are heading to Israel for a vacation but decided to volunteer with Leket to help make a difference and impact the Israeli community.
These volunteers personally sort and pack rescued produce at Leket Israel’s main logistics center and pick excess fruits and vegetables in Leket’s designated farmer’s fields. Through the collective efforts of Leket Israel and the volunteers, 25 per cent of food wastes are rescued, which translated to 3 billion shekels in savings, the same amount of the food purchasing gap between the food insecure and food secure.
“It is amazing that so many foreign travelers are willing to take time out of their vacation to come support the Israeli community,” said Leket Israel Founder and Chairman Joseph Gitler, who founded the organization in 2003. “Their work directly impacts the amount of fresh nutritious food that Leket Israel provides to the growing number of Israel’s poor.”
For more information, please visit www.leket.org.