Rehn Commitment To Food Aid Scheme A Welcome Support To Those On Poverty Line – Prendergast

Labour MEP for Ireland South Phil Prendergast has welcomed the
European Commission’s proposal to extend funding of the Food Aid Scheme for
the EU’s most deprived people to 2014.

Funding for this programme had previously been secured to the end of 2013.
But today Commission Vice President Olli Rehn told the European Parliament
in Brussels that the programme will be reallocated to Heading 1
of the EU budget and be extended into 2014.

Mr Rehn told the ‘mini-plenary’ session that, “the harsh reality is that
there will always be people in our societies in need of such a type of
programme”. Ms Prendergast said support from such a high level in the
Commission will be welcomed throughout the EU.

“The programme, which provides food aid for the most deprived persons in
the EU, helps alleviate food poverty. It is of particular importance given
recent increases in the number of those classified as being “at risk of
poverty”, both in Ireland and abroad”, said Ms Prendergast.

“Figures released by the CSO this week show the number of households in
Ireland which are at risk of poverty has risen to almost 16%.

There are currently 18 million people living below the poverty line in the
EU and Eurostat figures show 23% of the total EU population and 27% of
children in Europe were at risk of poverty and social exclusion in 2010.
This is simply unacceptable.

The Food Aid Scheme positively contributes to the social cohesion of the
Union as a whole and, despite a seemingly hefty price-tag of €500
million, costs just €1 per person per year.

“reland benefited from this scheme to the tune of €1.2 million
last year and groups working with those experiencing poverty simply cannot
afford the loss of this vital programme post-2013.

“Given the economic situation facing Europe, politicians are always on
the lookout for potential savings but, at this critical time, we must bear
in mind the impact of such cuts on vulnerable people. We must ensure that
free meals schemes can continue to operate and meet the rising need for
their services at a time of economic crisis.

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