- Title: Coronavirus crisis drives more people to French food banks, many for first time
- Date: 16th July 2020
- Summary: (SOUNDBITE) (French) "RESTOS DU COEUR" PRESIDENT, PATRICE BLANC, SAYING: "If the pandemic goes back up in autumn, it will add to unemployment, and it's an explosive mix." VOLUNTEER VOLUNTEER WALKING IN CENTRE MILK BOTTLES VOLUNTEERS PREPARING BAGS
- Embargoed: 30th July 2020 16:51
- Keywords: COVID-19 coronavirus food banks health impact poverty
- Location: PARIS AND HOUILLES, FRANCE
- City: PARIS AND HOUILLES, FRANCE
- Country: France
- Topics: Society/Social Issues
- Reuters ID: LVA003CN26J47
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: They were temp works, hospitality industry employees, painters, students - now, they've become newcomers to France's food banks as the coronavirus crisis has unleashed a flood of people who had never expected to need help to meet their basic needs into distribution centres.
Among them is 34-year-old Natalia scraped by during France's nearly two-month lockdown thanks to donations from a food bank after the Paris bakery she works in put her under partial unemployment.
With loans to pay and a family of four to feed, she continues to fear for her job despite the re-opening of her store two weeks ago because of slow business, she said as she collected goods at a food bank northwest of Paris on Thursday (July 16).
Her husband, an independent construction worker, lost clients during the lockdown. When he resumed work, the more large-scale construction jobs that used to earn him money were replaced by smaller works that pay less.
"I'm not embarrassed, but it's too bad we can't get by on our own," Natalia told Reuters. "What scares me is how are we going to get by if there is a second wave."
After France went into lockdown in mid-March, Hamza, a student from Morocco, was unable to earn cash for food giving math lessons to high school students as he prepared for university entrance exams, leaving him no choice but to seek food aid.
With the Restos du Coeur charity seeing numbers up 20-30% from normal levels since March, staff said Hamza and Natalia's cases are now common, whereas before, they would rarely see students or people with jobs.
Government officials have said that as many as 8 million people in France might need food aid by the end of the year, and a number food banks have said they are not prepared to cope with the increase.
"If the pandemic comes back in autumn on top of all the unemployment, it'll be an explosive mix," Restos du Coeur head Patrice Blanc said.
(Production: Emilie Delwarde)
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
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