More needy, less supply: tafel remains uncovered

The number of people in need at the Hamburg Tafel has risen by 20 to 30 percent since the pandemic began. There is now a shortage of large donations.

Supplies are running low: More Hamburg residents need food from the Tafel Photo: Markus Scholz/dpa

The lines are getting longer, the supplies scarcer: The Hamburg Tafel reports an increasing number of needy people at its distribution points. The number has increased by 20 to 30 percent since the beginning of the corona pandemic. At the same time, there is a shortage of donated food.

"Mainly because of the lack of large donations, not enough goods are coming in," says Julia Bauer of the Hamburg Tafel. It is a crisis that is now making itself felt with expected delay: "The problems we feared back in March are occurring," says Bauer.

For many people who were sent to short-time work or lost their mini-job in March, the financial cushions have now been used up, he says. "Now, more and more people are registering in all districts," Bauer says. In neighborhoods such as Eidelstedt, Tonndorf and Rahlstedt, he says, the number of people eligible to pick up food has risen especially.

"So far, we don’t have a high density of distribution points here," Bauer says. That’s why the volunteers want to offer additional distribution days – also to avoid having too many queues because of the risk of infection. Even before the pandemic, there were around 30,000 food distributions a week. "Now we’re well above that," Bauer says.

Less than Hartz-4

For the social association SoVD, this is hardly surprising. While these districts are not among the poorest, they are also below Hamburg’s average income. "The cost of living is too high in Hamburg overall, and then it’s often not enough here even despite having a job," says Heide Pusch of SoVD. After all, rents continue to rise. More than 100,000 Hamburg*innen have an income below the low-wage threshold.

40 tons of food is delivered by the Tafel every week.

There are 27 distribution There are 27 distribution points, and 65 other facilities receive regular deliveries.

More than 100 volunteers work for the Tafel.

There is a particular shortage of dairy products and dry goods such as pasta or rice are currently in short supply.

This means that they are hardly better off financially than Hartz 4 recipients, says Pusch. "Moreover, those who were still able to get by with a mini-job before the pandemic are particularly affected," she says. Many mini-jobs have been eliminated by the pandemic.

Large donations are needed to keep the Tafel running. "We need more goods now, but we are currently getting too little," says Bauer. There are hardly any trade fairs, hardly any conferences and the hotels continue to have few guests: the usual large donors* now have hardly any food to give away. "In all areas of the food industry, orders are placed extremely cautiously," says Bauer.

Yet the Tafel is logistically positioned for larger donations. There are enough refrigerated trucks and vans. After all, the Hamburg Tafel is also a kind of hub for many Tafeln in the north, some of which are co-supplied by Hamburg. "We can – ‘unfortunately’ it has to be said in view of the growing demand – handle large quantities without any problems," says Bauer. Smaller amounts of donations, he says, are nice to have, but logistically too labor-intensive.

After all, the work of the volunteers is now running smoothly again for the most part. At the beginning of the pandemic, the concern about the risk of infection was not only due to the queues in front of the distribution points.

Consideration also had to be given to the health of the volunteers. "Eighty percent of our volunteers are over 60 years old," Bauer says. Some distribution points were temporarily closed. But the hygiene concept worked, and an increasing number of younger people also got involved.

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