France's poverty nightmare as 27% admit restricting food they eat

The COVID-19 pandemic has meant financial insecurity for many French citizens and the poorest in the country have even cut down on the amount of food they purchase, a charity boss has claimed.

In an interview with news outlet 20 Minutes, departmental director for French non-profit Secours Populaire, Nicolas Champion, highlighted the role of the pandemic in heightening food poverty.

He said: “30 percent of French people say they have more and more difficulty eating a healthy diet allowing them to eat three meals a day.”

“Champion continues on to stress that this number has increased 7 points since last year.

“37 percent [of people] downgrade the quality of their meals and 20 percent have to skip meals. And this is for financial reasons.

“This means that the French are sacrificing more and more this item of expenditure.

“The priority is the roof over their heads. They pay their rent first, even if it means restricting their food budget.”

Over half of those surveyed knew someone struggling with financial precarity, according to the Ipsos/ Secours Populaire poll.

He said: “The crisis has pushed into poverty people who had temp jobs, students, entrepreneurs who have filed for bankruptcy.”

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To this, Mr Champion responded: “This delay is damaging in view of the social situation in our country.

“Fortunately, the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD) has been extended until 2021, and has increased to reach €870 million, which will allow us to finance more meals.”

Throughout the pandemic and the lockdowns, organisations and charities increased food distributions, which Mr Champion said “enabled us to reach more people.”

“Since the start of the coronavirus epidemic, the number of beneficiaries has increased by 45 percent.

But it is clear that many people who need help do not ask for help because they are ashamed to do it.

All the more so if they have suddenly fallen into precariousness since the crisis.”

The IPSOS/Le Secours Populaire survey was carried out by telephone from June 18th to June 23rd 2021, on a representative same of 1,000 French people aged 16 and over, according to the quota method.

Additional reporting by Maria Ortega