News / Europe

EU Proposed Cuts in Food Aid Could Affect Millions

Packs of food, part of European subsidies are seen at a warehouse of the Banque Alimentaire (Food Bank) in Strasbourg, September 20, 2011.
Packs of food, part of European subsidies are seen at a warehouse of the Banque Alimentaire (Food Bank) in Strasbourg, September 20, 2011.
Lisa Bryant

European Union governments consider next week whether to cut a food aid program benefitting more than 13 million poor people. Those supporting the cuts argue that national governments should provide the food assistance. But charities warn the proposed cuts would be disastrous for some of Europe's most vulnerable residents - at a time of growing austerity.

The small office of French charity "Secours Populaire" in the Paris suburb of Boulogne is packed one recent afternoon. A sampling of France's poor - young and old, immigrants and native French - file in to receive weekly distributions of meat, pasta, dairy products - and chocolate for the children.

They include Stephania Grigoras, a 25-year-old illegal immigrant from Romania, who is here with her three-year-old daughter Beatrice.

A single mother of three, Grigoras says the food she receives from Secours Populaire is very important because she can't find a job. It helps her family eat. And the volunteers at this office listen to her problems.

Marc Antoine Vadelorge, 24, also depends on the distributions. Not so long ago, he was a fisherman in Normandy. But earlier this year, he quit the family business and headed to Paris to find work.

"The price of the fish is down, the gazoil [fuel] is up and it's more difficult to pay what you have to pay when you're a fisherman," said Vadelorge. "And when you have your check at the end of the week of fishing, it's not very good."

Secours Populaire is among scores of European charities that depend on the European Union for food aid. But EU members are divided whether to slash the food aid program. The assistance traditionally depended on surplus food supplies. But supplies are down, and some countries argue that national governments, and not Brussels, should pay for the poor.

Secours Populaire's President, Julien Laupretre, says cutting the EU aid would be disastrous.

Laupretre says there are some people who only eat thanks to the food aid. Without EU assistance, he says, Secours Populaire will be forced to cut its food distributions in half.

The proposed food cuts come as Europeans are spending less across the region in response to the debt crisis.

That's the case in France, where government spending cuts sent thousands of protesters to the streets this week. France is among the countries arguing the EU food aid should be maintained.

Secours Populaire's Laupretre says hard times have already arrived. He says the number of people receiving the charity's handouts has increased steadily, to roughly 2.4 million so far this year.

Laupretre says Europe's debt crisis is particularly affecting young people, single parents, children, immigrants and the working class. Most worrying, he says, are the increasing numbers of old people seeking food assistance.

European agricultural ministers are expected to discuss the proposed aid cuts when they meet later this month.

You May Like

China Announces Corruption Probe into Senior Ex-Leader

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, being probed for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid