Gabriela receives an income of about 700 euros a month between his work and the work he does in the neighborhood. Of these, 630 euros go to rent and, in addition, he has two children in his care. The only solution left to her, like so many other people, is resort to social assistance to be able to fill the pantry every week and, even so, these supports are insufficient. “You have to go to all the shops in the neighborhood and where it’s cheaper, things get caught there,” he tells national radio and adds that, given his situation, “10 cents more or 10 cents less at the end in the pocket is noticeable”.
She is a recipient of the Mutual Support Network of Aluche, where they distribute every Saturday the food they get thanks to donations from neighbors and the help of the Madrid Food Bank. Roger, its president, explained in ‘The Mornings of RNE’ that among the most requested products are proteins such as eggs or milk, but also feminine hygiene products, whose prices make them inaccessible for many women without resources.
It also points out that in recent months they have seen an increase in the number of families who turn to them for help, going from 300 to 450 per month. Among which are many that were previously donors and that, after the rise in inflation, have had to join the queue of recipients. But the lack of institutional support means that food is insufficient and that families continue to have to go to stores to complete the shopping list. “In the network they give us fruit and vegetables every week, but we can’t have all the products we need,” explains Gabriela.
Neighbors, a fundamental network of solidarity
Rogelio explains that since the activity began they have distributed about 940,000 kg of food, of which only 7,000 came from the Madrid City Council. “Each week we donate about 8,000 kg,” he says. For this reason, he appeals so that the burden of aid does not fall on the shoulders of other families.
“Rogelio, head of the Aluche Mutual Support Network: “Every week we donate around 8,000 kg”“
“Donations have decreased and requests for help continue to increase,” they indicate Carola and Tevaresponsible for the Lavapiés Food Bank, who assure that it is the neighbors themselves who are in charge of responding to the need for food. The problem, as volunteers and organizations seem to agree, lies in the lack of institutional help, without which it is very difficult to provide all these families with the care they need. Above all, when there are times of general economic difficulty that also converge with crises such as the one in Ukraine, on which a large part of the population has turned. “Spain is a very supportive country”, they explain, but they emphasize that there is also a very high risk in the normalization and structuring of poverty.
“The institutions must turn their policies around”
An idea with which Carmen Herrero, a researcher at the Valencian Institute of Economic Research (IVIE), agrees, who believes that “municipal governments are not close enough to families to make this more viable” and that the part closest to them, the municipalities, “are failing in this regard.”
In addition, among the risks that families suffer and that are added to the rise in prices, is the lack of adaptation of social assistance to various situations, such as those that are not compatible with work and can discourage people from working.
It also points out the importance of using tools to mitigate the effects of high prices and proposes the offer of alternatives to dining scholarships so that once the school year is over, families can secure a plate on the table for the little ones.
It highlights that for those with fewer resources, substitution in consumption is more complicated, which is why they are the main affected by the rise in prices, as has happened with the case of cereals or oil as a result of the war in Ukraine. . Therefore, he claims the need to impose shock measures to respond to this problem and asks the institutions to “turn their politics upside down” so that they stop making poverty invisible and chronic.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.