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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Multimedia Relatives of South Korean Ferry Victims Fire at Authorities

36 people are confirmed dead, but some 266 remain trapped on board More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

$84 million project aims to clean up soil contaminated by Agent Orange More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends 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.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid