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The Restos du Cœur launch their winter campaign, the pandemic has worsened the precariousness – France

The Restos du Cœur are launching their 37th annual campaign this Tuesday. The association warns about “the worsening of the precariousness” of the most deprived caused by the health crisis, at a time when food aid has never been so crucial in France.

The covid-19 pandemic marked the spirits last year, with the lengthening of the queues in front of the food distribution centers. And the pressure is not decreasing: the association created by Coluche has helped 1.2 million people since November 2020 and distributed 142 million meals, against 136 million the previous year.

“On the ground, we really see an increase in the precariousness of the most disadvantaged, especially among people we already know”, explains the president of Restos du Cœur, Patrice Douret.

More than making “new poor”, the epidemic has especially depressed those who were already weakened, according to the association. More than half (53%) of its beneficiaries say they have suffered a loss of income related to the health crisis, while 15% admit that it forced them to push the door of Restaurants.

“The reproduction of precariousness worries us more than ever”, continues Patrice Douret, particularly worried about the difficulties encountered by young people and single mothers with children… 40% of the beneficiaries of the Restaurants are minors. “We are really afraid that the economic recovery suggested by the indicators will exclude these most precarious populations. “

On the eve of the presidential election, the government is currently praising the effects of its policy of “whatever the cost”: support for short-time work and exceptional aid paid to the most modest.

In addition to a decline in unemployment, he was particularly pleased at the beginning of November with a provisional estimate from INSEE, which shows that the poverty rate remained stable in 2020, contrary to the feared explosion. This does not prevent that “certain situations of poverty have worsened thanks to the crisis”, according to the statistical institute.

Itinerant centers in rural areas

The associative sector insists on this risk of dropping out of the poorest. Especially since “the situation is worsening with the rise in energy prices: to pay the bills, trade-offs are often made to the detriment of food”, recalls Patrice Douret. Last week, Secours Catholique sounded the alarm in a report that “nearly 10% of the population” is forced to resort to food aid. Between 5 and 7 million people benefited from this aid in 2020, compared to 5.5 million in 2017.

The Federation of Food Banks, which is organizing its large national collection over three days from November 26 to 28, is also worried about “the constant increase in the number” of its beneficiaries, which grew by 6% in 2020 and continues to grow. increase this year.

Through the various confinements, the isolation of the most precarious has further accentuated. In an attempt to curb this phenomenon, the Restos du Cœur are trying to find all those who do not dare to go to their premises, or do not have the means to do so. The association has thus launched itinerant centers in rural areas: it hopes to double their number and reach 60 mobile services of this type in the coming months. Its street food distributions have also increased by 25% over the past two years.

Short circuit

Eggs, milk, meat… The association is also trying to obtain many products in short circuit to improve the quality of the baskets distributed. To do this, she calls for an improvement in the management of the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived, which finances one in four meals at Restaurants.

“There are problems with canned vegetables, especially green beans, because there is no service provider who responds to calls for tenders organized by the State to provide these products”, regrets Patrice Douret.

Faced with the widening of inequalities, the French “are showing exceptional generosity, which we will still need”, blows the association leader. The year 2020 was marked by a record of donations to associations, according to the France Générosités barometer.

This outpouring of solidarity shows that “the fight against precariousness is a priority for the French”, according to him. “However, we do not see it enough in the programs of the various presidential candidates,” he laments.

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