Over 50 percent of young people in Spain are unemployed. More and more people are taking to scavenging through garbage bins to find their next meal. The problem has become so widespread that one city has mandated locks on garbage bins.
From this New York Times story that we found at the Oregon Bulletin, writer Suzanne Daley explains the problem.
At the huge wholesale fruit and vegetable market on the outskirts of this city recently, workers bustled, loading crates onto trucks. But in virtually every bay, there were men and women furtively collecting items that had rolled into the gutter.
“It’s against the dignity of these people to have to look for food in this manner," said Eduardo Berloso, an official in Girona, the city that padlocked its supermarket trash bins.
Berloso proposed the measure last month after hearing from social workers and seeing for himself one evening “the humiliating gesture of a mother with children looking around before digging into the bins."
The Caritas report also found that 22 percent of Spanish households were living in poverty and that about 600,000 had no income whatsoever. All these numbers are expected to continue to get worse in the coming months.
About a third of those seeking help, the Caritas report said, had never used a food pantry or a soup kitchen before the economic crisis hit. For many of them, the need to ask for help is deeply embarrassing. In some cases, families go to food pantries in neighboring towns so their friends and acquaintances will not see them.
In Madrid recently, as a supermarket prepared to close for the day in the Entrevias district of Vallecas, a small crowd gathered, ready to pounce on the garbage bins that would shortly be brought out to the curb. Most reacted angrily to the presence of journalists. In the end, few managed to get anything as the trucks whisked the garbage away within minutes.
But in the morning at the bus stop in the wholesale market, men and women of all ages waited, loaded down with the morning’s collection. Some insisted that they had bought the groceries, though food is not generally for sale to individuals there.