Students queuing for food distribution on November 15, 2022 in Bordeaux. (AFP/Archive/Philippe LOPEZ)
Restos du cœur, social grocery stores or soup kitchens: at the time of the opening of the 38th campaign of the association founded by Coluche, the charitable world is the last bastion for “the poorest of the poor” suffering the full force of inflation and food insecurity.
The associations all come to the same conclusion. As prices rise, the number of recipients of food aid increases and poverty increases.
Since April, the number of beneficiaries of Restos, which launched its 38th nationwide campaign on Tuesday, has jumped 12% and their difficulties have increased as 60% (up from 50% a year earlier) live in “extreme poverty”. live”, i.e. with less than half the poverty line (551 euros per month).
In food banks, the observed increase in visitors is 9% in the first half of the year, “that is, in six months, about as much as previously in two years of Covid”, notes the network director Laurence Champier bitterly.
A total of 3.2 to 3.5 million people in France are taking advantage of food aid provided by associations – whether through the distribution of packages, hot meals or solidarity grocery stores – according to a study by Insee published on Tuesday.
These beneficiaries are among the “poorest of the poor” and are often forced to deprive themselves to better feed their children: their average standard of living is just €637 a month, well below the average €877 received by all households who live below the poverty line, specifies the Institute for Statistical Studies.
Almost a third (32%) of recipients “report that they often or sometimes go to bed hungry” and two-thirds of those with children report that adults in their families “often or sometimes” have to reduce their share in favor of the children.
– “Every gesture counts” –
Volunteers prepare packages for the Restos du Coeur in Asnières (Hauts-de-Seine) on November 22, 2022 (AFP / Bertrand GUAY)
“We are in a situation where precariousness is increasing in our country, especially food insecurity,” added the Minister of Solidarity, who arrived on Tuesday to support “Restos” volunteers at a distribution center in Asnières, near Paris .
Faced with inflation and increases in rents or energy prices, those most in need would be taken to “arbitration” in their household, he stressed.
“We make the choice to stop eating meat or fish, then we skip meals,” noted the minister, before praising the measures taken by the Energy Customs Shield and announcing an extraordinary amount of €10 million for food aid to students Difficulty. An amount that we can fear, however, is “not enough”, commented France Inter the president of Restos du Coeur Patrice Douret.
To meet the growing needs of those most in need – who sometimes don’t even have enough petrol to pick up their food parcels – associations have to deal with rising costs themselves, leading to fears of a ‘scissor effect’.
However, the Restos du Coeur have no plans to reduce aid to their 1.1 million beneficiaries and are therefore appealing more than ever for donations from the French, who contribute to three quarters of the association’s needs.
“However, we have many modest donors,” stresses Mr. Douret, who, in this difficult context, wonders “until when they can continue to donate”.
A concern shared by Laurence Champier of the Food Banks, which will be unveiling their large “national collection” to the public next weekend: by donating a pack of pasta or a jar of beans at the exit of their supermarket, individuals can contribute 10% of the network’s annual needs, she explains.
“Every gesture counts,” summarizes Ms. Champier. “Generosity is a tool for social cohesion, we will need it in the face of this looming crisis. We must remain united despite the budgetary difficulties we are all experiencing.”
© 2022 AFP
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