600% increase in food bank demand

By TPN/Lusa, in News · 06-02-2021 10:00:00 · 0 Comments

The Banco Alimentar do Porto (food bank) has seen an increase of 600 percent in support requests since the beginning of the pandemic, the head of social service said, adding that at the moment, the institution supports 60,000 people in the district of Porto.

"Requests for help have increased and the profile of people asking for help has also changed radically", said Inês Pinto Cardoso, speaking to Lusa News Agency.

If, before the pandemic, the requests were mostly from people with Social Integration Income (RSI) or pensioners, at the moment, the requests that reach the Food Bank against Hunger in Porto are essentially “people who lost their jobs and never imagined going through this situation”.

According to the official, in 2019, Banco Alimentar do Porto directly received 71 requests for help, which she sent to the social institutions of the district, and in 2020, the requests exceeded “more than 500 people”.

"Most people who ask for food aid at this time have never received it and never imagined themselves in this situation," said the official, adding that some people "feel ashamed to ask for help".

According to Inês Pinto Cardoso, many people who ask for help belong to younger age groups and in general ask because "they have lost their jobs or had precarious employment contracts".

“At this moment, we are receiving more requests for help from people in the age group between 20 and 45/50 years old”, he clarified, adding that "there are already people in extreme situations, who do not have food at home".

Right now, the Food Bank Against Hunger in Porto is helping more than 60,000 people, 25,000 of which through food baskets and the rest through the 300 institutions it supports and serving social meals to the most vulnerable population such as the elderly, children who are victims of mistreatment, young pregnant women and victims of domestic violence.

To respond to requests for assistance, Banco Alimentar of Porto has made an “enormous daily effort to obtain donations and raise the necessary amounts”.

"For the month of February, we will need about 93 tons of food, such as rice, pasta, legumes, and milk," revealed.

In addition to requests for food aid, several people have also asked for assistance from Banco Alimentar do Porto to cover other expenses such as electricity, water, in which case the institution "signals requests".

"We cannot help in these areas, what we do is signal the requests and keep these records to inform the institutions", he explained.

To Lusa, Inês Pinto Cardoso admitted to fear that, due to the new confinement, the situation will worsen, saying that “the next two years will be difficult”.

The Food Bank Against Hunger in Porto is composed of a team of 13 employees and more than 600 volunteers.

In December, the district of Porto registered 84,073 enrolled in employment centers, another 17,440 compared to February, the month before the first confinement due to covid-19, according to statistics from the Institute of Employment and Professional Training (IEFP).

According to the monthly statistics by municipality of IEFP, analyzed by Lusa, in December 2020 the 18 counties of Porto counted a total of 84,073 unemployed registered, which represents an increase of 26 percent compared to February.



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