On April 13, 2023, Eurodiaconia together with the Red Cross EU Office organised a roundtable discussion on food aid in the context of the cost-of-living crisis in Europe at the European Parliament, co-hosted by MEPs Brando Benifei and David Casa.
The event counted on the participation of national members of Eurodiaconia and the Red Cross, representatives of the European Commission and the European Parliament, researchers, NGOs and other stakeholders. It focused on the provision of food aid in times of crisis and accessing funds for providing support to people in need. It was also an opportunity to discuss challenges experienced by NGOs and social service providers.
From the discussion, it was clear that the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Russia’s war in Ukraine, and the consequent cost-of-living crisis have caused millions of people to struggle to make ends meet across Europe, affecting those that were already vulnerable the most. Social service providers are bridging the gap between government support and the true cost of living for people experiencing poverty, but they need more investment and support to carry out their work.
Moreover, the speakers and participants discussed the implementation and accessibility of food aid funds under the new ESF+ and what solutions are needed to continue running the services. Along these lines, Alfredo Abad Heras, representative of Eurodiaconia member Iglesia Evangélica Española, stressed that food aid is not a question of emergency reaction but a structural problem and a symptom of inequality. Heather Roy, Secretary General of Eurodiaconia, equally highlighted the need for a system change to avoid normalising the need to continuously open new food banks, warm banks and social restaurants.
Eurodiaconia, together with other NGOs will continue advocating for social policies that tackle the roots of structural inequalities and will monitor the development of food aid provision in Europe under the new ESF+ to assess how to better support those struggling to make ends meet.