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France pledges €60million in 'sustainable' national food aid in 2023

The prime minister said the funding would go towards national projects as well as local initiatives decided by prefects

A photo of a paper shopping bag with health food spilling out

The funds will help lower-income households to access fresh, better-quality food Pic: Candle photo / Shutterstock

France is to spend €60million on ‘sustainable’ food aid projects in 2023, Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne has said, including ‘national networks’ and local initiatives. It could also help to develop a food cheque scheme.

The plans will enable the “most vulnerable” people in France to access “good quality food” via a “long-term food aid fund” from next year, the PM said during a visit to a food bank in Reims, Marne.

By ‘sustainable’ (in French durable) Ms Borne was referring to fresh, high-quality food, especially when produced in people’s local areas and not involving a lot of environmentally-unfriendly transport costs.

She was accompanied on her visit by Solidarity Minister Jean-Christophe Combe and the Social Economy Junior Minister Marlène Schiappa.

Ms Borne said: “[We want] to support the main national projects, so that they can buy more quality and fresh products. We also want to support initiatives like those we have seen this morning in local areas, for example, to buy quality foods for our food banks and associations that work in food aid.”

The money will go to national and local projects that already exist, but the government will also call for proposals for more projects, which will also benefit from the funds.

Local projects will be funded via “regional prefects”, said Ms Borne. They could include “support for initiatives between farmers and producers, who could work on local supply chains to deliver quality food.

“For example, we could also put long-term food cheques in place, because that’s something that we want to develop on a national level.

“We are working on a food cheque [scheme], which is a very complicated subject. We wanted to start with this food aid project, by improving the quality of products being offered.”

Food cheque changes

Food cheques (chèques alimentaires) were among the promises made by President Macron in his campaign for a second presidential term. 

Read more: End of TV licence fee, food cheques: Macron’s promises if re-elected 

Read more: Spending power in France: general inflation aid to replace food cheque 

However, complications in setting up the food cheque system led the government to introduce general bank transfers for the lowest-income households instead of dedicated food aid.

The food cheque had been intended to help lower-income households to buy healthy, local, sustainable, and organic items, against the backdrop of rising inflation and soaring food prices.

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