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06.03.2021 Europe

French food charity in major fundraising drive as Covid hits hard

By RFI
© Thomas Giraudeau/RFI
LISTEN MAR 6, 2021
© Thomas Giraudeau/RFI

With thousands more people in difficulty this year because of the impact of Covid-19, France's Restos du Coeur (Restaurants of the Heart), a charitable organisation which provides meals for those in need, has launched a major fundraising drive.

The coronavirus pandemic has led to long queues outside meal centres and food banks. A recent survey suggested that, of the 2.1 million people benefiting from food aid at the beginning of 2021, more than half had begun to use food banks within the last year.

This weekend supermarket shoppers are being asked to donate items to the Restos du Coeur.

The charity needs more money than ever according to its president Patrice Douret. He told RFI that around 15 percent of those visiting the Restos du Coeur said their difficulties were a result of Covid. Even though there is now light at the end of the tunnel because of vaccines, it is vital “not to forget those who have been left by the wayside,” he added.

More students expected 

“Already this summer, we're expecting to have an increase in the number of people in difficulty – and probably for some years to come,” said Douret.

“The Restos du Cœur are gearing up to deal with greater numbers, including more students and people with unsteady or low paid jobs – as well as more of the families and homeless people who were already often in need of help before the pandemic.”

Last year the association gathered 7,400 tons of supplies – the equivalent of 7 million meals- and this year it hopes to do even better. It is keen to make up for the 4-5 million euros of lost ticket revenue after the yearly concert “Les Enfoirés”, the organisation's key fundraising event, had to be held in an empty venue because of Covid.

The first Resto du Coeur was launched in 1986 by the comedian Coluche.

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