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

Video Drug Use Rises in Afghanistan

Ninety percent of world’s heroin comes from Afghanistan More

Here's Your Chance to Live in a Deserted Shopping Mall

About one-third of the 1200 enclosed malls in the US are dead or dying. Here's what's being done with them. More

Video NASA: Big Antarctica Ice Shelf Is Disintegrating

US space agency’s new study indicates Larsen B shelf could break up in just a few years 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.
Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriagei
X
May 21, 2015 4:14 AM
The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.
Video

Video Women to March for Peace Between Koreas

Prominent female activists from around the world plan to march through the demilitarized zone dividing North and South Korea to call for peace between the two neighbors, divided for more than 60 years. The event, taking place May 24, marks the International Women's Day for Peace and Disarmament and has been approved by both Koreas. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug Use Rises in Afghanistan Following Record High Poppy Crops

Afghanistan has seen record high poppy crops during the last few years - and the result has been an alarming rise in illegal drug use and addiction in the war-torn country. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem has this report from Kabul.
Video

Video America’s Front Lawn Gets Overhaul

America’s front yard is getting a much-needed overhaul. Almost two kilometers of lawn stretch from the U.S. Capitol to the Washington Monument. But the expanse of grass known as the National Mall has taken a beating over the years. Now workers are in the middle of restoring the lush, green carpet that fronts some of Washington’s best-known sights. VOA’s Steve Baragona took a look.

VOA Blogs