April 17, 2013

Advocacy in Israel Grantee Profile: Be’er-Sova

By Sarah Steinberg
Advocacy in Israel grantee profile beer sova photo 2

Advocacy in Israel grantee profile beer sova photo

Name:  Be’er-Sova, established in 1999 

Location:  Be’ersheva, Israel

Mission Statement:
To supply hot, nutritious, healthy meals for the needy in Be’er sheva and the surrounding area. 

Recently, Be’er-Sova has been developing an advocacy program both for and with their clients.

MAZON grantee since 2000

Why it was founded:
Be’er-Sova was founded by community members in Be’ersheva who were horrified by seeing people scavenging in trash cans in search of something to eat.  Be’er-Sova is a play on the name of its location, meaning “Well of Fullness.” 

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                            A volunteer in the Be’er-Sova kitchen

Who they serve: 
Today Be’er-Sova’s “restaurant” is and remains the only kitchen in the city preparing freshly cooked free meals (about 2,000 per month) to anyone who comes.  Other programs include:

  • Meal delivery to 70 housebound seniors
  • Food box distribution
  • Homework and supper programs for at-risk youth

The Need:
Be’ersheva has a higher than average unemployment rate, with  about 24% of the community on welfare.  As government support decreases, more people will depend on Be’ersheva. 

“Ken and I have made several visits to Be’er-Sova.  At one of our meetings, Executive Director Erez Nagawker told us, “Giving food is great, but we need to give it with responsibility.” Be’er-Sova stands out for its holistic thinking about charity.  They don’t just provide calories, but rather, healthy food, and they match that with tools to help their recipients move beyond the need for charity. At their after-school program “Gamal” (“Camel”) Club for at-risk youth, the kids are learning about the importance of healthy eating and the families receiving monthly food packages learn how to prepare that food in the healthiest way.  But perhaps most innovative, Be’er-Sova is exposing their clients to information about their rights and reasonable expectations, a crucial first step so that they can learn that different and better food exists and that there are ways to access it.” – Christina Hecht

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Executive Director Erez Nagawker shows Ken Hecht the Be’er-Sova vegetable garden