It's food for thought on poverty


Israel has one of the world's strongest economies, yet 20 per cent of its citizens live below the poverty line, more than 250 guests were told at a Mayfair dinner which raised £200,000-plus for a food aid charity. Addressing supporters of Manna, the UK branch of Meir Panim, financial journalist Alex Brummer said that "issues of social dislocation in Israel and the large gaps between the wealthy and the poor are one of the most worrying things. This is something I feel very strongly about".

The sentiment was echoed by Martin Lewis, the JC's Money Mensch, who founded the MoneySavingExpert advice site. Mr Lewis, who supports UK food bank charity the Trussell Trust, said: "Whether it's in Israel or the UK, those of us who are successful and fortunate have a social and financial responsibility to do what we can for people who aren't in the same position."

Senior rabbi of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews' Congregation, Joseph Dweck, said that for many Israeli children arriving home from school, "it's not a question of 'what can I snack?' or 'can I play with my iPad?' It's a question of whether there's any food in the cabinet".

Dinner committee chair Lawrence Harding said the issue of social deprivation in Israel "should be a stain on the conscience of each and every one of us. In Israel, a country whose annual GDP is consistently one of the highest in the Western world, what a truly woeful and shameful situation.

"Meir Panim is committed to alleviating this massive social and economic problem."

The charity helps 2,000 people daily through its network of food centres, after-school clubs and meals-on-wheels programmes. Before Pesach, it assists more than double that number with food packages and food shopping cards.

Bringing a taste of Israel to the meal were top chefs Shalom Kadosh and Lior Gamliel, who worked in conjunction with the culinary team at the Park Lane Hotel.

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