Food aid requests due to soar in Algarve as summer ends
Photo by Maria Lin Kim on Unsplash

Food aid requests due to soar in Algarve as summer ends

Price increases described as “suffocating”

Charity institutions in the Algarve are predicting a huge increase in food aid requests after this summer due to higher inflation and unemployment rates in the winter.

“With a high rate of employment during the summer associated to tourism, the Algarve population is only due to feel in the low season the true effects of the economic crisis, which started during the Covid-19 pandemic and has been worsened by the energy crisis and increased living costs due to inflation,” Lusa news agency reports this Friday.

The rising prices have been described as “suffocating” by Fábio Simão, president of Movimento de Apoio à Problemática da Sida (MAPS), a charity association which provides support to the homeless and people with AIDS.

“We are slowly seeing more people ask for support again, but we still haven’t felt the large impact which this summer is masking,” Simão told Lusa, warning that “the worst is still to come.”

However, Simão said it is hard to predict whether this winter will be particularly worse than previous winters in the Algarve – a region long blighted by precarious work.

MAPS provides around 50 people with food hampers donated by the Portuguese Food Bank (Banco Alimentar) and other institutions as well as meals to another 70.

Refood Faro is also predicting an increase in people seeking support this winter.

“I believe that we will once again receive many requests for help in mid-September, more than in previous years,” coordinator Paula Matias told Lusa.

The main reasons are the decreasing quality of life due to inflation and the end of special assistance measures created during the Covid-10 pandemic.

Matias confirmed that requests have increased in the last weeks of August, especially from families who had stopped needing assistance after getting a temporary job in the summer, but are jobless once again.

The coordinator also said that around 70% of families who seek the charity’s help do so due to the expensive rents that they have to pay in the Algarve, which leave them with barely any money left for other expenses.

“Families have to pay for a series of services, especially rent, and what is left to the end is food,” she said, adding that the number of middle-class families seeking support is increasing.

All in all, Refood Faro aids over 500 people (around 200 families).

Catholic charitable organisation Cáritas Diocesana do Algarve is not reporting any increases in food aid requests so far due to the successful tourism year that the region is enjoying so far, which means several people are still employed.

“The picture of social support here in the Algarve may differ slightly from what is going on in the rest of the country,” Ana Sofia Pereira from the organisation’s social action department told Lusa.

“As people are still earning wages, they are not feeling the crisis yet, which is expected and we know will happen,” said Pereira, adding that the calls for help will likely begin in the second half of September or start of October.

It’s the ‘same-old’ situation for many people in the Algarve, who are only able to find a job in the summer when businesses increase their number of employees to meet the busy summer demand.

“These are precarious jobs, many times without a contract and which end when the high season ends,” said the spokesperson for the regional organisation, which supports 534 people in the Algarve (nearly 200 families).

By Michael Bruxo

michael.bruxo@portugalresident.com