The association “Food Bank” has been on the field for three years, with the people who welcome the help. The idea is to collect as much food as possible and to distribute it to the hungry people.
Around 4000 citizens, beneficiaries of social welfare, go to bed every night with an empty stomach and with the thought “what will they eat tomorrow?” Every day they depend on the hot meal which they receive once a day, five times a week in one of the 41 national kitchens, opened by the Ministry of labour and social politics within the four-year project “National kitchens”, in order to reduce poverty. But what do these people do during the weekends and the holidays?
The right to have a hot meal in the national kitchens belongs to the beneficiaries of social welfare who are on the lists of the centres for social work. But, there are people in the country who are deprived of such protective measure, because they do not have an ID or because they have an income which does not even satisfy the basic family necessities.
The national kitchens, their number and the data on their users, are not a realistic indicator of the state of the poor people in Macedonia. The picture is very different on the field. There are a lot of hungry people who cannot afford even one meal a day. It is hardest for the youngest, the children who are happy for every piece of bread, a bagel or a juice.
The association “Food Bank” has been on the field for three years, with the people who welcome the help. The idea is to collect as much food as possible and to distribute it to the hungry people. And there are many!
“Food Bank – Macedonia” functions since 2011, after perceiving the real state which speaks of the alarmingly high POVERTY of the citizens. A system was created which will continuously, during the whole year, provide food for the people who need it in Skopje, but also in other cities in Macedonia. With the intention to build a unique system and centre that will accept, register and distribute the excess and donated food, and which is a result of the production in the food industry – chains of supermarkets, companies, restaurants and manufacturers, our association already laid the foundations of a special mechanism according to which all Food Banks across Europe function.
It is exactly the price growth, especially for food, that create the perception of a low life standard and poverty in which people live today. The situation on the field is more than alarming, but it is not new – it is a consequence of the longstanding transition of Macedonia, and it reflects and grows regarding the pronounced and bigger-by-the-day social exclusion and poverty which goes “hand in hand” with the economic crisis which reigns in Macedonia.
NRC – part of the Coalition for fight against hunger in Macedonia!
According to the basic indicators, we come to the information that there are 70 000 hungry and malnourished people in Macedonia, and we base this data on several parameters, the most prominent of which is the unanimous vote in the Assembly of the Republic of Macedonia for an additional help for the socially endangered and poor families of 100 MKD on top of the already approved 600 MKD for coping with the energetic poverty, i.e. assistance in paying the electricity bills for 20 000 families. If we take into consideration that one family has an average of 3 – 4 members, than the data for the number of poor people is over 70 000. If they are financially unable to pay the electricity, then they are unable to provide “decent” food for their families.
Since 2011, the Food Bank – Macedonia is an associate member of the European Federation of Food Banks (EFFB), a family of 247 food banks from 22 states from and outside of Europe.
Through mutual actions, the National Roma Center was invited to be a part of a wider and more organized action form against poverty “pH Dignity! – Coalition for fight against hunger!” with 15 civic organizations from 9 municipalities from Macedonia as members.
In the mutual actions we had one mutual goal – a direct fight against hunger of the targeted group of citizens from Kumanovo and its surroundings by providing bread and pastries from the company TINEX, who once again demonstrated its social responsibility. This is where NRC entered the story.
In September and October 2013, the NRC, in collaboration with the Food Bank – Macedonia, engaged two volunteers and by believing in the solidarity that together we can offer our help to the ones who need it the most, implemented a humanitarian activity in two Roma neighbourhoods where most of the population is poor without means for basic existence.
The human activity consisted in gathering the pastries and the bread from 18 TINEX supermarkets from Skopje. In average, 880 – 1030 pieces of bread and other pastries were collected from the 18 markets from Skopje. It took 4 – 5 hours to collect the food and afterwards it was distributed in the two settlements where a large number of poor Roma population lives.
You can read more about the goal of the mission of the Food Bank – Macedonia on http://bankazahrana.org/
The text was prepared in collaboration with Dushko Hristov from the association “Food Bank”.