Need for food aid grows steadily in Latvia

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Winter will be a challenge for most, and demand for food aid is already increasing, according to the charity Samaritan Association of Latvia (LSA). The association expects that demand will continue growing as prices rise, and therefore a donation campaign has been launched to expand its activities, Vidzeme television reported on October 12.

Vidzeme television spoke to the head of the charity center Valdardze foundation Eva Sāre-Aizsilniece, who had arrived to one of the supermarkets in Valmiera to collect expired foods. The Center is one of the food handouts for the initiative 'Paēdušai Latvijai' [For a Latvia that has eaten], providing assistance to a specific audience – children and families suffering from violence.

“It's mostly bread products, pastries, cakes, sweets,” said Eva Sāre-Aizsilniece. At the moment, there are 30 children in the center with their mothers, staying there for a month to two. The head of the Centrer adds that the situation in the country is also reflected in the daily lives of their customers.

"One of the types of abuse is neglect,where children have not received sufficient nutrition, sufficient attention, and parenting. It must be said that the time has returned when there are more children who live in a shortage of something," said Sāre-Aizsilniece.

According to the Samaritan association, an increase of 20%-25% could be expected for food aid. The food pantry is already issuing around 500 food parcels to needy people every month. In the winter, it could be 600-650 packages.

In cooperation with more than 30 regional non-governmental organisations, the Samaritan Association of Latvia focuses on families with children and also supports seniors and people with disabilities. These are people who have not been granted the status of a poor or disadvantaged person and therefore don't qualify for state aid. The costs and cost increases are already felt by the organizations themselves, so a donation campaign to expand and strengthen activities has been launched.

“The biggest challenge right now is with fuel to take donations from both the stores and from the central warehouse and other donors, and also to deliver these packages to the home where this is needed,” said 'Paēdušai Latvijai' leader Agita Kraukle.

20 tonnes of food are donated monthly by the long-term partner “Rimi Latvia”. A survey has also been conducted in cooperation with the SKDS, which shows that 88% of the population are concerned about the payment of daily spending and the provision of basic needs during the autumn and winter seasons, while 12% indicate that they are already limiting the amount of food.

“We can give more food, but it's limited by purely organizational things. There are not enough rooms or fridges where, for example, they would take fresh fish from our stores or meat that could then be distributed to these needy people, but they don't have these resources at the moment,” says Inga Bite, head of external communication at Rimi Latvia.

This year, more than 13,000 people have been helped by the food pantry, with more than 5,000 food packs. Donating to the pantry's expansion of operations will be possible in the second half of November.

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