Saturday, April 13

Inflation fills soup kitchens in Portugal

Like every weekday, Maria Alice goes to the dining room A Voice of the Operator, a social entity in the center of Lisbon, for a takeaway ration. The old woman has been coming regularly for a year, although she admits that in recent months she has had more urgency due to the rise in inflation, which food prices have skyrocketed In the supermarkets. “With what they give me here I have for a daily meal, I eat it now for lunch and at night I eat a little bread and a piece of fruit. Life is like that, everything is very bad“, the Mint.

Alice is one of the 43 people, most of them elderly, who go to the entity’s dining room. The person in charge of social action, Rita Governo, explains that this is the maximum number of places that they can offer with the financing they receive from the Portuguese state, although the requests to receive aid they have not stopped increasing in recent months. “The end of some support that the Government offered during the pandemic has been combined with the increase in prices in supermarkets. This situation has meant that we are once again in a Situation similar to April 2020”, he points out.

low pensions

Rising inflation has placed social benefit recipients and pensioners in an even more vulnerable situation in Portugal, where more than half of retirees receive a pension between 278 and 402 euros -the minimum established by law based on the years of contributions- according to the latest data available from Social Security. Remuneration that, according to Governo, is not enough to face the increase in the cost of living and the rental price in the main cities of the country. Alice agrees: “I worked for more than 40 years in a home products store, but the salary was very low and I am entitled to a very small pension. It is like that, there are many people who are the same as me”.

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The Portuguese Government has approved several aids for the most vulnerable to try to face the crisis, such as a reduction in the price of gas cylinders or a complement of 60 euros per month for the shopping cart. Some support that people like Carlos Jorge, one of the attendees at the A Voz de Operário dining room, believe is positive, despite being temporary. “It seems not, but this money helped me a bit because every month I was asking my neighbor for money. One day five euros, another day ten… and at the end of the month I had to return it. with this help I didn’t have to ask for anything and that for me is a relief”, he explains.

insufficient supports

The social organizations insist, however, that these supports they will not help resolve the situation in the long run. For the president of the Portuguese Federation of Food Banks, Elizabeth Jonett, the solution in Portugal lies in improving the average salaries and pensions of the population, which continue to be among the lowest in the European Union. “The most needy people live so badly that any help is good, but they are still palliative measures that do not allow in any way to change the lives of these people. In Portugal we have about a 19% of the population at risk of povertyit is a structural problem, and in a period of crisis this situation worsens even more”, he assures.

Related news

Despite the protests of the unions and social organizations, the Portuguese Government has refused to increase the salaries of civil servants beyond what was established at the beginning of the year, 0.9%, and has not been in favor of improving the extraordinary increase in the lowest pensions agreed at the end of last year, 10 euros per month.

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This situation will place more families in a situation of vulnerability, according to Jonet, although the activist is confident that the increase in prices does not affect food collection. “Everyone knows a family that is worse off today than before. People who lived from day to day and who, with the increase in inflation, are in an even more difficult situation. Fortunately, the Portuguese are supportive and in the last campaign, carried out in May, we barely noticed a decrease in the volume of food collected.”

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