Inflation and the war in Ukraine will cause a 20% increase in the number of people turning to food banks for help in the coming months, according to forecasts for 2022 by the Spanish Federation of Food Banks (FESBAL).
The federation warns that we are facing a new scenario of social emergency: the rise in prices has overlapped with the pandemic and is chronifying the situation of food poverty already suffered by many people in Spain. The current figure remains close to 1.5 million registered users in 2021 and threatens to shoot up again due to inflation.
Moreover, the new crisis is not only affecting thousands of vulnerable citizens, but also the Food Banks themselves throughout the country and the social organisations in charge of distributing food in the neighbourhoods. Because of rising prices, they are receiving fewer donations and surpluses to stock their warehouses and have had to reduce the amount of food they distribute by more than 10%. They have also been affected by the delay in the arrival of European funds for entities scheduled for 2022.
After two years of social emergency resulting from COVID-19, the last few months have seen a generalised rise in prices and a major loss of purchasing power for many families. One only has to look at the latest data from the National Statistics Institute (INE) to see a year-on-year rise of 8.4% in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) in April. The figure continues to set alarm bells ringing despite being slightly lower than in March, when it reached 9.8% after thirteen months of uninterrupted escalation. In the same vein, according to a report by the Organisation of Consumers and Users (OCU) published at the beginning of April, 5 out of 6 supermarket products are more expensive than a year ago, and the cost of the shopping basket has risen by 10% compared to 2021. If this continues, explains the OCU, by 2022 each household will have to spend 500 euros more on basic foodstuffs alone.
Against this backdrop of high inflation, FESBAL warns that many of the new users who will need food aid in the coming months will be people with jobs and low and middle-income families who can no longer make ends meet due to rising prices. They also hope to help many of the Ukrainian refugees who have arrived in Spain because of the war in their country.
With the aim of tackling this emergency situation, the "la Caixa" Foundation and CaixaBank are promoting the third edition of the "No Household Without Food" solidarity campaign. This initiative raised more than 5.5 million euros between 2020 and 2021, marked by a 50% increase in the demand for food aid due to the pandemic. Thanks to these donations, 5,986 tonnes of basic foodstuffs were obtained and distributed among the 54 Food Banks associated with FESBAL, so that they could reach the people who needed them most, through almost 9,000 collaborating social entities.
"We are living in a new moment of uncertainty. After two years of intense social crisis due to the pandemic, the escalation of prices in the food industry, among other factors, is further eroding the purchasing power of Spanish households. This has also led to a decrease in the donations received by the food banks associated with FESBAL. For this reason, the campaign of the "la Caixa" Foundation and CaixaBank is of great help so that the Food Banks can continue their work and so that the thousands of families who find it difficult to make ends meet do not lack food", says the President of the Spanish Federation of Food Banks (FESBAL), Pedro Miguel Llorca.
"We are attending as best we can to the needs of families who are in a state of urgent need. The increase in the number of beneficiaries is aggravated by the situation of shortages in the warehouses that the different Food Banks are experiencing. This situation has led to a decrease in the amount of food they can supply us with, both non-perishable foodstuffs and fruit and vegetables. In this sense, we have gone from delivering 25,967 kg in the first four months of 2021 to 19,224 kg in the same period of 2022", explains the food distribution coordinator of the San Félix de Madrid Parish, Félix López.
"The current difficult situation means that this campaign continues to be very necessary for thousands of people and families who are forced to ask for help to cover their most basic needs. That is why, just as we did in the worst moments of the pandemic, we are strengthening our commitment to the Food Banks. Immediate solutions are needed, which is why we are opening the campaign with a donation of 1 million euros from the "la Caixa" Foundation. We encourage companies and the general public to join in this call for help", says Joana Prats, Director of Relations with Social Entities at the "la Caixa" Foundation.
"The work that the Spanish Federation of Food Banks has been doing for years to help families who are not going through the best of times is frankly admirable and, in a context of inflation such as the current one, it is essential that we support their contribution as much as possible. Social commitment is one of CaixaBank's core values and, for this reason, we can only join forces with the "la Caixa" Foundation and the Food Banks to channel our support to the most vulnerable groups," said Raúl Marqueta, Director of Social Action at CaixaBank.
From 16 May, donations can be made through CaixaBank's ATM network, the most extensive in the country; through CaixaBank NOW, both on the app and the website; and through the corporate portal www.caixabank.es, for those who are not CaixaBank customers. Another option for collaboration is through Bizum, by sending a donation to cause 38014. The total amount of the donations will be distributed among the 54 food banks associated with FESBAL.
Both FESBAL, CaixaBank and the "la Caixa" Foundation call on companies and Spanish society to continue to show solidarity with those who need it most.
All the information about the campaign and the different forms of collaboration can be found on the website www.ningunhogarsinalimentos.org.