On UN Universal Children’s Day (Nov. 20), NGO Calls for Focus on Israeli Children Lacking Breakfast

RAANANA, Israel, Nov. 16 – To mark the upcoming U.N. Universal Children’s Day, Nov. 20, the nonprofit Nevet is calling on Israelis to focus on the fact that a growing number of young citizens start their school day without a healthy breakfast.
Nevet, a nonprofit that provides free breakfast sandwiches to needy schoolchildren, today urged Israeli educators and parents in particular to help make the issue a national priority around the U.N. Universal Children’s Day, which was established in 1954 to improve children’s welfare and awareness of children’s issues.
“Universal Children’s Day can provide a critical forum to address a pressing issue that we rarely discuss in this country: tens of thousands of children do not enjoy the basic privilege of a healthy, nutritious breakfast,” said Rotem Yosef, the vice president of strategic development for Nevet.
Most Israeli students head to school in the morning with at least one breakfast sandwich, which they consume during a morning break. But many families in lower-income brackets or from dysfunctional family settings suffer from food insecurity – the inability to regularly access healthy food – and as a result, an estimated 21,000 kids go to school daily without a breakfast sandwich.
Without a healthy morning meal, students cannot properly concentrate in school, and their academic performance suffers. In the longer term, these students risk becoming trapped in a cycle of poverty.
“With the simple breakfast sandwich, we can offer a nutritional anchor that can lift many children into a new level of academic achievement, and ultimately to propel them to a greater chance of succeeding,” said Yosef.
Still, Nevet fears the problem could intensify. According to Israel’s National Insurance Institute, more than 800,000 children live below the poverty line. Meanwhile, a recent OECD survey of literacy in math, reading and science of 15 year-olds in 72 countries found Israel revealed the greatest gap in grades between students of different cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds.
Nevet is addressing the issue. The organization provides 8,000 Israeli schoolchildren in grades one-12 at 130 schools across the country with a nutritious sandwich every morning, and surveys Nevet conducted measured an impact: 96 percent of school principals said students who received the breakfast sandwiches showed a marked improvement in their academic performance, and 83 percent of principals reported improved school attendance rates with the program.
“The simple breakfast sandwich remains the key to our philosophy that a healthy breakfast paves the way to effective learning and ultimately drives greater social mobility,” said Yosef.
Still, Nevet has 13,500 children on its waiting list, and believes more work needs to be done. Given that the UN Universal Children’s Day promotes child welfare and the rights of children, now is the time to focus on this issue, Yosef said.
“Let’s celebrate Universal Children’s Day by taking the opportunity to raise awareness of the importance of a healthy breakfast, for all young Israelis,” Yosef said.
About Nevet:
Nevet, founded by Leket Israel in 2006, provides nutritious daily school breakfasts for children from disadvantaged backgrounds and dysfunctional homes, fortifying them to concentrate on their studies and move towards a better future. The program distributes some 1.3 million breakfasts every year to 8,000 students daily at 130 schools across Israel during the morning break, creating a nutritional anchor for the children every school day. Nevet provides more than just breakfasts; it gives children the opportunity to succeed and break the cycle of poverty. The program has been proven to reduce child delinquency, violent or disruptive behavior, and school absences, and help children stay in school and focus longer. To learn more please visit: Nevet.org.

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