The president of the Fundació Banc dels Aliments de Barcelona, Lluís Fatjó-Vilas, yesterday urged the administrations to specify how the new food aid system with funds from the European Union (EU) will be deployed in the coming months, which, according to his calculations , will partially leave out about 200,000 people in Catalonia. The EU is committed to distributing wallet cards to vulnerable families with dependent children to purchase the basic products of their diet instead of distributing batches of food. Fatjó-Vilas offered a conference yesterday on how the context of inflation and rising prices affects citizens at risk of poverty and social exclusion, at the Barcelona Tribuna forum, organized by Amics del País, the Spanish Association of Managers and La Vanguardia. , at the CaixaFòrum Macaya headquarters
“In the absence of more information about how the European program will be applied in 2024, we estimate that the wallet card will only reach around 20,000 people of the total of 220,000 that we currently serve with European funds,” explained Fatjó-Vilas. Although it is expected that the amount that will be allocated to Catalonia will be the same as in previous years, around thirteen million euros, the number of beneficiaries will be smaller due to the change in model. “What will happen to the people who are left out?” asked the speaker.
Users of the wallet card will purchase food directly in the establishments determined, at market prices, while the Banc d'Aliments (BA) purchased them in large quantities and therefore at a much more advantageous amount.
“The wallet card is an advance because it is people, and not NGOs or administrations, who choose what they eat,” said Fatjó-Vilas, who nevertheless defends the need for a mixed system to persist, that is, to continue distributing food.
The speaker indicated that the majority of the 660 collaborating entities in Catalonia, specifically 68%, continue to apply the model of distributing lots to citizens without resources.
In a context in which the risk of poverty or social exclusion rate (Arope rate) stands at 24.7% in Catalonia, according to Idescat data for 2022, Fatjó-Vilas defended the role of the BA in supporting the people who suffer greater fragility, such as undocumented migrants or refugees. “Our mission is to help the most difficult and complicated groups, there are people who have lost their jobs and are excluded from the system, others whom the city councils do not want to register, the most defenseless..., where the administration does not reach, we reach we. One of our strengths is the network of entities that know and follow people...”, she stressed and regretted that food is not a “recognized right in the portfolio of Social Services”.
Fatjó-Vilas recalled to the audience gathered at the Palau Macaya that in 2022 they distributed around “30 tons of products, more than 50% food that is outside the commercial circuit, the cost of which is around 50 million euros.”
A few days before a new edition of the Great Recapte, he commented that a total of 18,000 volunteers are needed. Next Friday and Saturday, food will be physically collected at collaborating establishments, while financial donations will remain activated until December 30 at the checkout lines of the same businesses. “In 2022, between products and money we obtained 6.2 million euros,” he said.
The Banc d'Aliments calls for repeating, and if possible increasing, the amount collected to compensate for the impact they consider the change in model planned by the EU will have.