More Belgian residents relying on food banks as food donations decline

More Belgian residents relying on food banks as food donations decline
An increasing number of people are relying on food banks in Belgium. Credit: Nicolas Maeterlinck / Belga

While more people are forced to rely on food banks after the pandemic and the increase in energy and food prices, food donations are declining, leaving food banks in dire need, as reported by the Belga News Agency.

In the first half of the year, 204,000 people had to visit food banks for necessities, according to a survey by the Belgian Federation of Food Banks. In December last year, this number was 15% lower.

Donations are seeing the opposite trend. Compared to 2021, from January to May 2022 donations were down by 6.5%. This accounts for 607 tonnes of food.

Meeting the demand

"We call for additional tax breaks to encourage food companies and retailers to donate more food," President of the Federation Piet Vanthemsche said.

He suggested that a similar system to that in France is introduced in Belgium — where the net value of donated food, storage and transport costs are eligible for tax relief.

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Until a long-term solution is introduced, food banks have to buy food.

"In 2021, we already had to purchase 2,039 tonnes of food, or 9% of the total volume distributed," managing director Jef Mottar said.

With the growing demand and the declining donations, this number will only grow this year.

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