Portugal’s poorest families are receiving less in the way of food support every month, making it impossible for them to survive in any semblance of dignity.
This is the bottom line of a story trailed by Jornal de Notícias and picked up by SIC television news.
The situation has been getting progressively worse over the last five months – just as inflation has started to hammer prices in supermarkets.
Far from refuting the drama, the Ministry of Social Security has confirmed it, explaining the situation stems from “judicial challenges lodged by competitors” in public tenders for the purchase of products; the delay in analysing the issuance of technical opinions by ASAE (the food hygiene and economic safety agency) and the requirement of the EU in the associated procedural procedure” to procurement tenders.
For one of the 120,000 who receive food hampers this means that the days of receiving, for example, 25 items of food in a delivery, have now reduced to receipt of just 15 – and in smaller quantities.
JN cites a ministry source as saying the “situation should be gradually overcome” and that “some products (that have been lacking) will be distributed this month” – but for people going hungry, this will be cold comfort.
According to the paper, social assistants as well as the people they are delivering to all confirm that cuts in food in the hampers “are constant”.
The deeply-affected POAPMC programme (standing for operational support of people most in need) is co-financed by Europe and created to combat poverty and social seclusion in Portugal. Its ambit is to “reduce situations of vulnerability that place the integration of the most fragile people and their families at risk, reinforcing the response of existing public authorities”.
A recent study showed that in spite of this kind of support, poverty in Portugal has increased through the pandemic (click here).