Sister Esperanza Romero runs a soup kitchen in Oviedo, which feeds 300 people a day, many of them from the middle class. Around 100 volunteers help out. A meal costs 50 cents – half a euro – and some people can’t even find that. When the real estate bubble burst, many people were left destitute. Unemployment is more than 25% a record high in Spain.
Donations come from private individuals and businesses including large supermarkets.
María Velasco coordinates a Food Bank in Asturias and manages one of 247 distribution centres.
In 2011, the European Federation of Food Banks distributed 401,000 tonnes of groceries to 5.2 million people.
Around 31,000 organisations employing 800 people and 10,000 volunteers make it possible to distribute food to the most needy.
José Antonio Busto, the president of the Spanish Federation of Food Banks, is profoundly worried by the profile of the newly poor: “The same people are there but now there are also professionals, students, technicians who were sacked, but have run out of unemployment benefit and have no-one to help them. These people come to charity kitchens because they have to chose between paying their rent and eating.”
But funding food banks and soup kitchens is also becoming a problem he explains: “We want to continue this programme and we need a bigger budget because every day more and more people need us. It makes no sense to reduce our budget from 500 to 355 million euros. Food aid is about basic survival, and we need policies that support it.”
The European Commission has suggested a budget of 2.5 billion euros for food aid running from 2014 to 2020.
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