- Title: Coronavirus crisis drives more people to French food banks, many for first time
- Date: 16th July 2020
- Summary: HOUILLES, FRANCE (JULY 16, 2020) (REUTERS) VOLUNTEERS FROM "LE SECOURS POPULAIRE" CHARITABLE ORGANISATION TAKING FOOD OUT OF THEIR CAR VOLUNTEER TAKING BELL PEPPERS BANNER FOR "LE SECOURS POPULAIRE" VOLUNTEER TAKING TOMATOES VARIOUS OF VOLUNTEERS PUTTING FOOD IN BAGS VARIOUS OF STUDENT, HAMZA, TAKING FOOD BAG (SOUNDBITE) (French) MOROCCAN STUDENT IN ENGINEERING LIVING IN SARTROUVILLE, HAMZA, SAYING: "Before the (COVID-19) crisis, I never thought I would come here. I work while I'm in school, earning 500 to 600 euros per month, so I thought it was enough to buy anything I want. I never thought I'd come here." VARIOUS OF CAKE SHOP WORKER, NATALIA, TAKING FOOD (SOUNDBITE) (French) 34-YEAR-OLD EMPLOYEE FOR CAKE SHOP IN PARIS, NATALIA, SAYING: "With all our loans, our two children, the parental leave that goes with that, and then partial unemployment, it was difficult for us to survive financially." NATALIA TAKING BAG OF FOOD (SOUNDBITE) (French) 34-YEAR-OLD EMPLOYEE FOR CAKE SHOP IN PARIS, NATALIA, SAYING: "If the shop closes its doors definitively because of a second wave, I will be unemployed. I don't want to think about that at all because I don't know what we'll do then." PARIS, FRANCE (JULY 13, 2020) (REUTERS) PEOPLE LINING UP TO GET FOOD AID FOOD AID CARD PARIS, FRANCE (JULY 2, 2020) (REUTERS) PEOPLE LINING UP PARIS, FRANCE (JULY 13, 2020) (REUTERS) MAN GETTING HIS BAG READY TO GET FOOD AID PARIS, FRANCE (JULY 2, 2020) (REUTERS) VOLUNTEERS GETTING FOOD BAGS READY VOLUNTEER TAKING MILK CARTONS (SOUNDBITE) (French) HEAD OF "RESTOS DU COEUR" FOOD AID CENTRE IN PARIS' 18TH DISTRICT, FRANCOIS COADOUR, SAYING: "Last year at the same week, we were giving food to 1,700 people. Today, we're serving 2,600, so it has almost doubled." VOLUNTEER TAKING BABY FOOD VARIOUS OF VOLUNTEER PUTTING FOOD IN BAGS "SECOURS POPULAIRE" BANNER VOLUNTEER PUTTING FOOD IN SHOPPING TROLLEY IN DISTRIBUTION CENTRE WHERE PEOPLE CAN TAKE FOOD THEY WANT IN EXCHANGE OF SMALL FINANCIAL PARTICIPATION VARIOUS OF "SECOURS POPULAIRE" EMPLOYEE, DAVID FARGIER, PUTTING FRUIT AND VEGETABLES IN BAG (SOUNDBITE) (French) "SECOURS POPULAIRE" EMPLOYEE, DAVID FARGIER, SAYING: "What we've seen is that usually, we welcome very few students or individuals who work and come to take food aid at the 'Secours Populaire.' And that's where we observed the health crisis' impact on social dynamics, meaning that many people found themselves financial situations that forced them to come see us to get food aid." BENEFICIARY ARRIVING VOLUNTEER AND EMPLOYEE PUTTING FOOD IN TROLLEY
- 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: LVA001CN26J47
- 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)
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