Feeding the hungry

Fecha Publicación: 
28 Junio 2012

Crisis-hit Alicante is being fed by a network of determined charities and food banks – backed by the ongoing generosity of expat organisations.

Round Town News | Noticia
People of all nationalities living in the province have to rely on handouts of basics – food and clothing - to survive after falling victim to the cruelties of the ongoing economic recession.
RTN was told this week that the central Alicante Food Bank was currently feeding 90,000 families while in every parish the church charity CARITAS was handing out food and clothes, and Red Cross branches were also helping out.
Sadly, as more people lose their jobs or their state benefits dry up, the situation is forecast to get worse and the pressure on the network increase.
One of the newest food banks in the Marina Alta is ‘Ayuda Calpe’, set up at Mayor Cesar Sanchez’s request three months ago because CARITAS and the Red Cross in the town have been swamped by numbers of desperate people.
There are currently 40 families registered for help with the food bank – situated in Calpe’s sports centre – but given that the largest family has 29 members, numbers can be deceiving.
Encarna Perez, who has worked for the town hall for 10 years is running the facility, and said it was being supported by a number of individuals and associations on a weekly basis.
“The British expats are certainly the most generous,” she said. “In Calpe we are regularly being supported by the Lions, the Charity Shop, the U3A and Moftag. There are also individuals who are bringing food every week.”
She said Ayuda Calpe handed out food on Tuesday and Thursdays after social services sent people to the centre. “People must be on the Padron and referred to us – it is not just a matter of turning up and saying ‘feed me’.”
Encarna said the people being supported by the food bank were in addition to those already being helped. “But the other agencies are at breaking point.”
And as well as Spanish families, she said the food bank was helping English people – some elderly and some single parents - Dutch, Russians, Polish, and Chinese.
“The criteria are they just don’t have any money – people are losing their jobs and runn
ing out of entitlement to benefit payments,” she said.
Historically, Spain has suffered from periods of hardship but Encarna said people were able to help themselves by growing food on family land to survive.
“Nowadays everyone lives in an apartment and has to find money for the rent, electricity and water. The situation can only get worse,” she said.
“During the summer people will find temporary employment in restaurants and bars but when winter comes there will be more people at the door and the supplies could be exhausted.
“I am trying to treat the food bank like a good housewife and controlling what is coming in and going out so as not to be under stocked in one thing and have too much of another.”
She added: “Emotionally, the work is very difficult – it is sad but satisfying at the same time. Most of the time I can help people, it is a very necessary role.”
Encarna, helped by Calpe’s English councillor Carole Saunders also successfully handle small emergencies – this week it was shoes for a 14-year-old who arrived in a broken pair of sandals and also finding footwear for five siblings under the age of six who had none. Again it was the British community providing an immediate solution.
The food bank is open between 9.30am and 2pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays and donations of food and clothing can be made by going to the sport centre’s reception at any time.
Because the food bank is not a charitable organisation, by law donations of money cannot be accepted
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