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

Hong Kong Democracy Calls Spread to Macau

Macau and Hong Kong are China’s two 'special administrative regions' which gives them a measure of autonomy More

After Nearly 2 Years, Pistorius Remains Elusive

Reporter Anita Powell reflects on her experience covering the Olympic athlete's murder trial More

Kenyan Coastal Town Struggles With Deadly June Attacks

Three months after al-Shabab militants allegedly attacked their town, some Mpeketoni residents are still bitter, question who was really behind the assaults 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.
Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africai
X
Luis Ramirez
September 15, 2014 11:01 PM
President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africa

President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid