Why do people give up 1

poor Germany : Why more and more people have to go to the boards

More and more people go to the food banks in Germany to get food that they cannot afford in the supermarket. The umbrella association announced on Wednesday that the number of regular customers has risen by ten percent within a year. There are currently 1.65 million people in need. It is particularly dramatic how many retirees are among them.

Who comes to the boards?

The boards have been a mirror of society at the bottom for 26 years. According to the current balance, almost half of those who are waiting live from Hartz IV. A good quarter are senior citizens who live on basic security or a pension that is too scarce when they are old. In the past few months, 20 percent more old people came than in the previous year. A fifth are also people from abroad who have applied for asylum in Germany.

Other groups are low-wage earners whose earnings are insufficient - and single parents. Throughout Germany, 39 percent of single parents are dependent on basic state security - five times more often than couple families. This can also be seen in the panels. Broken down by age, 44 percent of users are of working age, 30 percent are children and adolescents and 26 percent are seniors.

In the past 14 years, the number of Tafel users has more than tripled, the association said. In 2005 it was 500,000. In 2007 it was 700,000 and in 2015 one and a half million. According to the organization, this is now the first significant, nationwide increase since 2014.

In the years in between, the development varied from region to region. In certain areas, the number of people in need increased due to the influx of refugees in 2015 and 2016, while in others it fell during the period. There has now been a six percent decline in refugees. The number of tablets has remained almost constant over the past twelve months at just under 950. The increasing demand cannot therefore be explained by an expansion of the supply.

Why is the demand so great?

Low pension payments are cited as the second most common reason to visit a blackboard after a long period of unemployment. "This development is alarming - old-age poverty will overwhelm us with a force in the years to come, as is the case today with climate change," said Tafel boss Jochen Brühl. It is also frightening that almost 50,000 minors have joined the Tafel users in the past few months.

In Germany, children are "systematically" neglected and the education system is one of the most impermeable of all OSCE member countries. "Because of structural disadvantages, the old-age poor of the day after tomorrow will grow up here," warned Brühl. On the blackboards, people are more likely to have no qualifications or training. At the moment, the rising rents would also increase the rush to the blackboards.

Why are pensioners so at risk of poverty?

More than a million people in Germany receive basic social security. This is shown by the current figures from the Federal Statistical Office. In Berlin there are over 83,000 citizens. Basic security is a form of social assistance that pensioners and people with disabilities receive if they cannot make ends meet with their pension. If one subtracts the people with a disability, more than 566,000 citizens over the age of 65 are a case for social assistance for financial reasons. Often they are low-wage earners, long-term unemployed or failed self-employed. But these are only the official numbers. Many pensioners shy away from going to the office - out of the unjustified fear that the authorities could get the money back from their children. "40 to 50 percent of the needy forego state benefits," says the social association VdK.

Can the food banks alleviate the need?

It is said that the volunteers have been working at their limits for a long time. This was most recently brought up in a scandal last year: The Essener Tafel hit the headlines nationwide in the spring of 2018 because it decided to temporarily only distribute food to Germans. An allegedly too large proportion of foreigners of 75 percent is now among the customers. Der Spiegel quoted the chairman of the Essen table, Jörg Sartor, as saying: “The German grandma or the single German mother didn't feel comfortable with us recently.” There is a “taker gene” among Syrians and Germans from Russia. Some would push and shove, there was a lack of “a culture of hiring”.

The federal chairman Jochen Brühl saw the controversial reaction of the Essen food bank as a kind of cry for help. He hoped that the outrage would trigger a rethink. Instead, from his point of view, the problems and indifference towards those who were left behind remained.

Although more and more people are looking for the support of the food banks, the organization can only pass on insignificantly more groceries than in the previous year: it is a good 265,000 tons; 500 kilograms every minute. More is not possible because of too few helpers and a lack of money for more refrigerated vehicles and storage rooms. It is not due to a lack of food. While the tables are a vital necessity for many people in this country, up to 18 million tons of food are thrown away at the same time every year.

To what extent is politics criticized?

Jochen Brühl criticized the fact that the current development had been foreseeable for ten years, the boards had been pointing out for four years - without an echo from politics. “The subject of poverty needs solution-oriented proposals and must be put right at the top of the political agenda,” demanded the Tafel boss. The sociologist Stefan Selke calls the existence of the tables as an alms system in such a rich country a political scandal. "They are the breakdown service of a socially exhausted society that fobbed off more and more of its members as superfluous," he said.

The opposition also spoke up. "The state must ensure at all times that the right to a decent subsistence level is realized for everyone," said Wolfgang Strengmann-Kuhn, Member of the Greens in the Bundestag. The figures of the table users would illustrate the “failure of the federal government in terms of poverty policy”. "We demand a poverty-proof guarantee that is free of sanctions and low-threshold, a guarantee pension that recognizes life's work, as well as a basic child security that makes it clear: Every child is worth the same."

What is the government planning for retirement?

Federal Pension Minister Hubertus Heil (SPD) wants to help people who have worked all their lives but still cannot make a living from their pension. He wants to introduce a basic pension to increase minder pensions. The social democrat wants to forego a needs test. The Union thinks that is wrong. The reform has stalled for months, a working group is supposed to find a solution.

Another way to support people in old age would be to reform basic social security benefits. This is because the full amount of the statutory pension is currently offset against social benefits. The VdK doesn't think that's right. President Verena Bentele calls for an allowance of 212 euros per month.

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