Middle class line up for food handouts in Spain

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Middle class line up for food handouts in Spain

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It is a stark symbol of Spain’s decline.

Handouts from the Red Cross are nothing unusual in a poor neighbourhood. But people are now lining up for rice, pasta, milk and potatoes in Tres Cantos, a supposedly affluent dormitory town, north of Madrid.

Many here are middle class but that has not protected them from the ravages of the Spanish economic downturn.

With work drying up, divorced mother Petri Vives is struggling to feed her children.

“I used to work five days a week,” she said. “I clean houses because I never studied and out of five houses, I only have two left. That is just 500 euros a month. I had to come here because I can’t find a job.”

As unemployment hits yet another high, with around one in four Spaniards jobless, those in need are coming from a broader social spectrum.

“Before, the profile of the users of the food bank service was mostly foreigners,” said Laura Tejedor, a Red Cross worker at Tres Cantos, explaining that more recently, most users are Spanish nationals.

Almost a third of all those unemployed in the euro zone are in Spain, with young people – the country’s future – the worst hit.