State food aid will be distributed to over 26,000 people in the fourth quarter of the year (Q4 2022), via food parcels which have been drawn up in partnership with the private and voluntary sectors, while the worsening economic situation means a food voucher system is to be rolled out early in 2023, the interior ministry says.
Donated food aid collected and distributed by food banks throughout the year has been distributed to those in need since 2019 on top of that already purchased by the state or local government.
The target groups include any person or household who find themselves in an economically difficult situation, including a parent or caregiver and any children living on the same premises, and whose need for assistance has been identified by a social worker from the local government.
Tea Varrak , head of social affairs at the Ministry of Social Affairs, said: "We have seen a sharp increase in the number of food aid recipients in the past year. By distributing state-bought food aid, in cooperation with the state, local governments and the Estonian Food Bank (Toidupank), we are helping to bring aid to those people who need it most in these economically uncertain times."
Through November, food aid will be distributed to a total of 26,331 people, the ministry says, with Varrak adding that the surge in recipients resulting from the worsened economic situation has increased stress on social workers and local authorities, as well as volunteers at Toidupank and other organizations, making food vouchers a more effective way of getting food to those needing it.
This system will be in place from the first half of next year, she said.
Food aid is also available to homeless people staying in shelters.
Donated food packages include canned food, dried fruit, tea and coffee and honey, with the Health Development Institute (TAI) contributed to the selection and assembly of the parcels' composition.
The food supplier is OÜ Sanitex, while the distribution is to be organized by SA Eesti – Hollandi Heategevusfond (Toidupank).
The state has supported the distribution of donated food aid to the tune of more than one million euros this year, the ministry says.
Editor: Andrew Whyte
Source: Ministry of the Interior