queues in associations are getting longer, “we’ve never had so many people”

queues in associations are getting longer, "we've never had so many people"

“This is my second time here,” says Vicky. At 29 years old, this temporary worker cleans in hotels, an activity that brings her irregular income. “This month I didn’t win much, about 700 euros, I was a little sick. I can’t keep up with the salary. Food is getting more expensive, oil costs 3 euros and little, you have to buy in batches to make it cheaper. There are abuses regarding prices,” says this mother of young twins.

“Everything is expensive”

Behind her, Clarissa, also 29 years old, is waiting her turn. This Bulgarian woman has learned to forget herself when she goes shopping: “I only buy for my children”, aged 6 months and 7 years, she announces. “Everything is expensive, especially diapers.” So, when she found out about the existence of this food distribution, she didn’t hesitate for long. “With distribution, I try to make two meals. It helps me a lot,” he says gratefully.

In front of an old fire truck converted into a mobile canteen, Abribus members serve portions on a chain, so everyone can eat hot.

“This year we average about 600 meals, it’s exploding. We even climbed up to 800” per day, specifies Pauline Chaignaud, treasurer of the association. “Since October, we have distributed meals during the entire winter season, as we did two years ago,” which lasts until April. “This is the first time we are faced with such a need”.

“We are reaching our maximum capacity”

The user profile has evolved: originally intended for people living on the streets, distributions now attract a diverse population. “We have people in hostels, but also others who work, who cannot make ends meet and who, when the electricity bill arrives, try to survive as best they can,” emphasizes Vincent Galuzo, 50, who has been volunteering for three years.

“The associations are there to make up for the failures of the state and the community, but they have to react there”

The phenomenon is widespread. Restos du Coeur is supporting 27,000 people in the department this winter, 15% more than in 2021. “At the same time, we are losing volunteers, who are affected by the price of gasoline and can no longer move,” explains Patrick Gruber, manager of the department.

Same observation with Secours Populaire. “We have never had so many people asking for food aid,” says Camille Vega, director of the Bas-Rhin Federation. “We made additional distribution because we were at the point of saturation, people had to wait five to six weeks for it to pass, that was no longer possible”.

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