Citizens line up to receive food assistance in Faro Photo: LUÍS FORRA/LUSA

“Without Refood Faro I would not be able to survive”

Number of people receiving food aid in Faro four times higher than in 2019

The number of people who receive meals and food products from Refood Faro has “quadruplicated compared to 2019” and is expected to continue increasing with the arrival of winter and the end of the Algarve’s tourism season.

Many of those requesting aid are people with “university degrees” who either lost their jobs or saw their income severely cut due to the effects of the pandemic.
Speaking to Lusa news agency, Refood Faro’s coordinator Carlos Reis says the number of people helped by the charity has increased from 114 in 2019 to over 400 this November, which equates to around 165 families.

“That is a lot of families for a borough like Faro, with a population of 50,000,” said Reis.

The situation has been worsening since October, when the region’s tourism activity began to slow down.

“The months of July, August and September were stable, but since the beginning of October the requests for help increased significantly, and now in November there have been many more. Many people lost their jobs after the summer, and we expect things to get worse in December and January,” Reis alerted. The number of people requesting aid could increase to 500, and some of these people have “an education and jobs” but are on a low income.

“They had completely structured lives and suddenly saw themselves in ‘lay-off’ schemes or dismissed. For the first time in their lives, these people have had to request food support and feel ashamed about it,” the coordinator explained.

“They never thought they’d be in this situation. Food is a basic need and is one of the last things we think we won’t be able to provide for our children,” he added.

Refood Faro ensures that meals and food products that are “in perfect condition” do not go to waste and are instead delivered to those in need.

Joana, 39, is one of the people supported by Refood Faro. She worked at a restaurant but was dismissed while on maternity leave for her fourth child in January 2020.

She described Refood as “angels falling from the sky”, as she and her family receive not only food but other basic necessities such as diapers for her two babies. In a house with seven people, her husband’s salary is only enough to cover rent, making Refood’s support “fundamental”.

Lara, 62, is another local resident whose life would not be the same without Refood Faro. She also lost her job in January 2020, right before the start of the pandemic, after undergoing two surgeries which forced her to go on medical leave.

“I couldn’t feed myself. I needed help and had no one. At the time, the institution that was supporting me stopped doing so and I felt helpless,” she told Lusa.
However, her life changed when her downstairs neighbour told her about Refood Faro in July 2020.

“Without Refood, I would not be able to survive,” Lara said.

“I’ve been married, I’ve been employed and now I see myself in a situation that I never imagined. Only those who go through this know what it’s like,” she added.
Refood has four branches in the Algarve – Faro, Almancil, Albufeira and Lagos – and 250 active volunteers at the Faro branch. While it may seem like a lot, Carlos Reis explains that at least 350 would be needed to cover every shift.

“This is a movement that is growing in the Algarve, and we hope that in future every town can have a Refood (branch),” he said. (available in English)

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