New Research Highlights Policy Pathways to Address Food Waste in Israel

The Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic & The Global FoodBanking Network identify policies to help Israel increase food donation, address hunger, and mitigate climate change.

June 20, 2023: Today, the Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic (FLPC), The Global FoodBanking Network (GFN), and Leket Israel released a new analysis of food donation laws and policies in Israel and recommendations on how Israeli leaders can reduce food waste, alleviate hunger, and mitigate climate change. The analysis and recommendations, produced with support from Sandra and Howard Hoffen, are part of The Global Food Donation Policy Atlas, which maps laws and policies affecting food donation around the world.

More than 2.6 million tons of food is wasted each year in Israel. This accounts for approximately 37% of the food Israel produces and is worth about 23.1 billion NIS ($6.2 billion USD). If the associated waste of natural resources and cost of greenhouse gas emissions are factored in, the cost of food waste in Israel grows to 23.5 billion NIS. This is an especially pressing issue for Israel, a small country with an arid climate and dense population.

At the same time, 16% of the population in Israel was food insecure in 2021. Much of the food that ends up being lost and wasted is suitable for consumption and could be diverted to people experiencing food insecurity. Instead, safe, surplus food too often ends up in landfills, where it produces potent greenhouse gasses, including methane.

“Food waste is a major challenge in food systems around the world, especially in countries like Israel where water and land are even more limited resources,” said Emily Broad Leib, clinical professor of law at Harvard Law School and faculty director of FLPC. “Legal and policy solutions can help bridge the gap between healthy, safe, surplus food and people who are food insecure. Our recommendations highlight pathways for Israeli leaders to take action.”

The new research identifies key policy opportunities to help Israel reduce its food loss and waste. Examples include:

  • Set a national 50% food waste reduction goal by 2030, aligning with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, and develop a cohesive national plan for food waste reduction, with an emphasis on surplus food redistribution.
  • Finalize the additional guidance regarding food safety for donations within the Public Health (Food) Protection Law.
  • Educate consumers, donors, and recovery organizations on the meaning of date labels to ensure quality-based date labels do not result in the disposal of food that is otherwise safe for consumption.
  • Pass a law that requires stakeholders in the food system to donate safe, surplus food to food distribution organizations to ensure that food donors make every effort to ensure food suitable for donation is not treated as trash or left to accumulate in landfills with damaging ecological consequences.

“Understanding the legal framework surrounding food donations enables us to identify gaps, overcome barriers, and maximize efforts to alleviate food insecurity,” said Lisa Moon, president and CEO of GFN. “The recommendations to strengthen Israel’s food donation laws and policies can significantly increase the impact of food recovery organizations like Leket.”

Israel’s Minister of Environmental Protection Idit Silman said, “the important policy recommendations of the Atlas reports launched today fully support the Ministry of Environmental Protection’s policies. Implementing food rescue measures leads to a triple advantage, yielding economic, social, and environmental benefits. Therefore, it is vital to actively promote the prevention of food waste in Israel. To accomplish this, we plan to lead a whole-of-government approach and in the coming months establish an inter-ministerial team, tasked with developing a national plan to reduce food waste in Israel.”

“In the State of Israel, there is a severe gap between the number of families who live with food insecurity and the amount of high quality, edible surplus food which is thrown into the garbage every day, ” said Gidi Kroch, CEO of Leket Israel. “Beyond the blatant injustice of disposing viable food which could be distributed to those in need, food waste causes economic and environmental damage, a problem which food rescue can solve immediately. The Atlas reports are an important tool for determining government policy and applicable solutions. I thank the Minister of Environmental Protection, headed by Minister Idit Silman, for taking responsibility on behalf of the State of Israel and for formulating a long-term plan while immediately implementing the proposed policy tools.”

“The Atlas resources underscore Israel’s leadership on food donation policy best practices,” said Sandra Hoffen, who supported the research in Israel. “It is inspiring to see the actions that this country has already taken to address food security and food waste, however more can be done. This new research is a valuable source of solutions to build on Israel’s accomplishments even further, help recover more surplus food, and improve access to no- and low-cost food for people who need it most.”

The Global Food Donation Policy Atlas identifies existing laws and policies that support or hinder food recovery and donation in a comprehensive Legal Guide and offers Policy Recommendations for strengthening frameworks and adopting new measures to fill existing gaps. The analysis featured in these country-specific reports are also encapsulated in an interactive atlas tool that allows users to compare policies between countries participating in the project.

Atlas project research is available for 22 other countries: Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Ghana, Guatemala, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, Paraguay, Peru, Singapore, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States. An interactive map, Legal Guides, Policy Recommendations, and Executive Summaries for each country are available at

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