Food Security in Israel in 2003 and Its Implications for Patterns of Nutrition

Insufficient food and inadequate nutrition (due to financial difficulties) among some households is a problem in many developed countries; claims have been made that in some of these countries, the problem is becoming more severe. While in developing countries the problem is reflected in severe food shortages that lead to malnutrition, which is a health risk and can result in death, in developed countries the problem is defined as “a lack of continuous access to sufficient quantities of appropriate food that can ensure a healthy and active lifestyle and normal development”. In the western world, the main obstacles to obtaining food are related to a household’s ability to purchase food. This is influenced, in part, by a country’s economic situation, average household income, and the degree of inequality in income.

 The extent of poverty in Israel and its increase during the 1990s, as well as the deepening of the economic crisis during the years preceding this study, have brought food insecurity to public attention in Israel.
This study, conducted by researchers from the Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute in cooperation with the Ministry of Health, is the first to provide national estimates of the problem. It aimed to measure the prevalence and severity of food insecurity in Israel, and to examine the implications of food insecurity for actual patterns of consumption and consumption of nutrients. To this end, a telephone survey was conducted between March and May 2003 among a national representative sample of 1,490 households, using a structured questionnaire. An index developed and validated in the United States was used.
The findings of this study were presented to government policymakers and forums involved in the issue, including those in the voluntary sector. They have provided a basis for examining the priority that should be given to food security in Israel, and have promoted discussion of the most effective way to cope with the problem under current circumstances.
The study was conducted in cooperation with the Ministry of Health, the National Insurance Institute, the Ministry of Social Affairs, and the Forum to Address Food Insecurity and Poverty in Israel.

Citations in the professional and academic literature

Gal, J., & Ajzenstadt, M. (2013). The long path from a soup kitchen to a welfare state in Israel. Journal of Policy History25(2), 240-263.
Compiled and summarized by, Troen, A. M., Fraser, D., Abdeen, Z., & Rosenberg, I. H. (2006). Child nutrition initiative in Israel and Palestine: Status of food security, micronutrient malnutrition, and behavioral change and communication programs. Food and nutrition bulletin27(2), 180-185.
Philip, D., Hod-Ovadia, S., & Troen, A. M. (2017). A technical and policy case study of large-scale rescue and redistribution of perishable foods by the “Leket Israel” food bank. Food and nutrition bulletin38(2), 226-239.
Abu-Asbah, K., Rosen, B., Karakra-Ibrahim, A., & Shatz, A. (2009). Mapping of Arab Food Aid Organizations in Israel. Jerusalem, Israel: Massar Institute for Research, Planning and Social Consultation Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute Smokler Center for Health Policy Research.
Possick, C. (2018). Women who frequent soup kitchens: A cultural, gender-mainstreaming perspective. Journal of Social Work, 1468017318765993.