France: After the health crisis, towards a social and food crisis?

Audio 02:29

In the premises of Restos du Coeur, in the 14th arrondissement of Paris. RFI / Alexis Bedu

By: Alexis Bedu Follow

Poverty is more and more visible in France, consequence of the episode of confinement. For three months, requests for food aid have exploded. The associations note an increase of approximately 50% of applicants.


Some have been waiting since seven in the morning outside the doors of Restos du Coeur. Families, the unemployed, the working poor, retirees. Astrid Tulipe, volunteer manager of the distribution center in the 14th arrondissement, is responsible for distributing tickets to respect the order of passage. “I give tickets to avoid a bit of arguments, people who come before, who cheat. I've been distributing them since yesterday and that avoids conflicts,  ”she explains.

It lists around fifty new registrations per week. “  Last year, at that time, we didn't even have 500 families. There are 950 there. Do you realize? It's huge ...  "

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Ali, father of three, has just obtained his beneficiary card. For several years, he was home help for an elderly person in the neighborhood, who died of Covid-19 during confinement. To live, he only has one disability pension left. “  I have an average of 450 euros per month. It's difficult. We have no morale. With disability, I have a little bit more money. It changed my life,  ”he said, his throat tight.

" Fortunately they were open during confinement "

You have to wait an hour to collect your food aid basket. In the line which makes more than a hundred meters at the edge of the ring road, many stories of broken life. For some, surviving has long been a daily struggle.

Restos du Coeur had 47% more applicants in three months. RFI / Alexis Bedu

Fortunately, [the Restos du Coeur] were open during confinement because, if I calculate, alone, I think I spent more than 2,000 euros from the strike to confinement just to feed a 14-year-old child  " , says a beneficiary. “  It's unbearable. Anyway we can't. When you can't buy in stores, what do you want to do ? When you are not helped, what do you want to do ? I'm not going to tell you my whole story or you will cry or fall to the ground ...  ", adds another beneficiary.

47% more applicants in three months

Restos du Coeur had 47% more applicants in three months, explains Astrid Tulipe. “  It's due to the containment problem. There are many people who come to see us and who have no more work. There are mothers who also come to see us because the children no longer have a free canteen. So they have nothing left to feed the children. I don't want to cry, but there are people who are really in trouble,  ”she recalls.

To eat, Zinon, an undocumented Moroccan, used to collect unsold products from the markets. You work in the markets. You unload, you unpack, you repack in the morning, in the evening, once or twice a week. But there is nothing in the markets. At least here there is food once a week. It's worth it  , ”says Zinon.

He leaves with his yellow cart full of food. Last week 10,000 meals were served in this warehouse on the outskirts of Paris.

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  • France
  • Poverty