Due to inflation, the association founded by Coluche finds itself faced with a paradox: that of lowering the income level which gives entitlement to food aid while being forced to refuse new applicants.
A campaign that already promises to be difficult. This Tuesday, the Restos du Coeur are launching their 39th food distribution campaign, and the association is forced to reduce the number of its beneficiaries due to financial difficulties.
“Hunger is increasing, more and more people are in difficulty due to inflation,” commented to some media, including AFP, Patrice Douret, president of the association founded by Coluche in 1985.
“Between 5 and 10% will be refused this winter”
The price increase reached 4% in October, according to the latest data from INSEE, those for energy (+5.2%) and food (+7.8%) remain strong. Les Restos du Coeur is currently receiving registration requests from potential beneficiaries of food aid for the upcoming campaign.
Speaking to BFMTV, Chantal Buisson, head of Resots du Cœur in Poissy, in Yvelines, details how the beneficiaries will be impacted. “We are going to refuse people, between 5 and 10% will be refused this winter,” she says, while the portions distributed are also reduced.
Over a week and per person, we go “from six meals distributed to four,” she adds.
For its launch, the president of Restos du Coeur will welcome partners of the association as well as the Ministers of Solidarity and Agriculture, Aurore Bergé and Marc Fesneau, in a distribution center in Asnières-sur-Seine, in Hauts -de-Seine.
The association welcomed 1.3 million people in 2022-2023, compared to 1.1 million during the previous period. And in recent months, its budget for food purchases, then redistributed free of charge to beneficiaries, has doubled due to inflation.
Single mothers, retirees, employees in low-paying jobs, students: this increase in requests concerns all profiles, in all departments. 60% of the households hosted live on less than 550 euros per month. For the first time in their history, Restos du Coeur have lowered the income level that qualifies for food aid.
Among those who have failed, “there is a lot of resignation, people know that we are not able to welcome everyone,” said Patrice Douret. These people can, however, benefit from the association’s other services, such as clothing donations or job search support.
A “food emergency plan” requested
Despite this measure, the Restaurants launched an appeal in September: it was missing 35 million euros to end the financial year in balance. “Our call was heard, there was an exceptional outpouring of generosity,” underlined the president of the association.
The government has granted an additional 10 million euros to Restaurants – which provide 35% of food aid in France. The family of Bernard Arnault, owner of the world number one luxury brand LVMH, offered 10 million euros. The rest of the amount came from donations from businesses and individuals.
Is the survival of this emblematic association now assured? “I don’t know,” responds its president cautiously. “We really need to continue to be supported.”
He still wonders about the finances of the structure because 60% of the donations it receives are usually made between November and December. “Will the French still be able to give at the end of the year? Did the donations received in September come from new people or were they donations from our usual supporters who will not necessarily be able to repeat their gesture at the end of the year? year?”, asks Patrice Douret.
To overcome this difficult milestone, the Restos du Coeur are asking the government to put in place a “food emergency plan”, “by increasing the budget dedicated to food aid associations to 200 million euros, compared to around 150 today,” said a press release from the association.
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