Politics must not forget poor people in the crisis
According to a recent survey by the national association of German Food Banks and community pantries, Tafel Deutschland e.V., the volunteers in the Tafel network are seeing a new need for help in Germany due to the corona pandemic. At the same time, the Tafel are currently unable to reach everyone who were previously seeking regular support. In light of the corona pandemic, the Tafel quickly adjusted to changing conditions and reopened their community food pantries, but the offers are still limited due to the distance rules. The organization expects customer numbers to increase further in the coming weeks.
Currently 830 Tafel are open, and they are faced with two developments: On the one hand, more people are coming for the first time from week to week. They are looking for support because they are self-employed, on reduced hours or have lost their job due to the corona pandemic. On the other hand, many people, especially older people, who otherwise sought help, are staying at home.
“We have seen a new form of distress in the past few weeks. Younger people are coming, who until recently were not at all dependent on the Tafel and are now crying tears of relief because they are able to get something to eat and refill their fridge. Even if the federal government has already provided quick and unbureaucratic help to many, some people are still facing existential needs,” says Jochen Brühl, Chairman of Tafel Deutschland e.V.
At the same time, Brühl is concerned about people who were coming to the Tafel before the corona pandemic. Older people in particular are staying at home for fear of infection. “We are currently not able to reach everyone who actually needs our support. We are very worried because we see that the poorest people are particularly hard hit by the crisis. Families have increasing expenses for food because their children are staying at home rather than in school. Older people not only lack food, but also social contact,” says Brühl. Some Tafel pantries have been able to set up delivery services for special risk groups. Encounters and conversations at the Tafel however are still missing. Brühl warns politicians not to forget people affected by poverty in the crisis.
120 of the 949 Tafel nationwide have suspended operations. The main reasons are a lack of space and of volunteers. A large proportion of the Tafel volunteers are at higher risk of infection due to their age or preexisting health conditions.
The organization sent an open letter to Federal Minister of Social Affairs Hubertus Heil at the end of March, asking for more support for the people most affected by poverty. Among other things, the Tafel network has joined many other associations and organizations calling for a temporary increase in basic welfare benefits by 100 euros per month.
“The federal government's billion euro stimulus package also takes poor people into account thanks to the one-time child bonus and a reduction in VAT. However, these steps are insufficient and come too late. Families affected by poverty absolutely need the children's bonus to get by, but this money is not enough for example to buy tablets or laptops for home schooling. Older people with very low pensions or basic security in old age do not benefit at all. The federal government needs to make improvements here, ”says Jochen Brühl.
The original press release in German can be accessed here.