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    Belgium sets aside nearly €300,000 for food aid

    Nearly €300,000 will be allocated to food banks. Credit: Pixabay.

    The federal ministers for social integration, Denis Ducarme, and for the fight against poverty, Nathalie Muylle, will ask for €286,000 to be released to help the food aid sector.

    The sum is intended for Belgian food banks, which come to the aid of nearly 300,000 people each year who are experiencing serious financial difficulties. €10,000 of the sum will be used to set up an online platform to help coordination between people in the sector.

    “Under normal circumstances, unsold goods from supermarkets account for 60% of the goods distributed by food banks,” explained Ducarme and Muylle in a joint statement.

    “In a context where the actors on the ground are facing a significant drop in unsold goods from mass distribution and the closure of some distribution points, we have released an initial budget of 286,000 euros,” Ducarme said.

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    The budget will be welcome news to volunteer organisations such as the Brothers of Solidarity, who had recently raised the alarm bell as “there [was] little or nothing left to donate” from supermarkets due to a panic buying spree.

    Muylle has also said she wants to grant a subsidy of €652,050 to extend the operation of the winter emergency accommodation centre in the rue de Trèves in Brussels until 31 May.

    “At a time when many shelters are closing down, homeless people in the capital will be able to benefit from a place to confine themselves, in accordance with the measures to limit the spread of the coronavirus,” she explained. In line with this, several associations have recently suggested ways in which we can help the homeless, including the temporary requisitioning of empty housing.

    The announcement comes amidst the news that Belgium now has 6,235 confirmed cases of Coronavirus and the peak is expected to come only “somewhere at the start of April,” according to virologist Steven Van Gucht.

    The coronavirus epidemic is severely taking its toll on the government’s budget, which is at a deficit of over €30 billion as reported on Thursday as an increasing number of businesses and employees are now being supported by government funding.

    Jason Spinks
    The Brussels Times