Inflation swells Spain’s ‘hunger queues’

MADRID, Spain (AFP) — With a secure job as a bricklayer, Hugo Ramirez never thought he would need the help of charity to feed his family.

But with the cost of living soaring across Europe, the 44-year-old father of three is one of a growing number of people in Spain turning to food banks to make ends meet.

“We see prices increase every week, even for basic goods,” he told AFP as he stood before wooden crates of fruits and vegetables at the entrance of a residential building in Madrid.

Driven by the war in Ukraine, Spanish food prices jumped 15.4 percent in October from a year earlier, their biggest increase in nearly three decades, according to the National Statistics Institute.

Sugar was up 42.8 percent, fresh vegetables rose 25.7 percent and eggs 25.5 percent as staple items soared.

In a bid to ease the pressure on squeezed households, Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s government — which faces an election next year — has spent billions of euros on extra welfare spending.

Spanish food prices jumped 15.4 percent in October from a year earlier.

Every Saturday Ramirez, who is from Venezuela, comes to this food bank set up by a neighborhood association in the working-class district of Aluche during the pandemic to pick up food supplies.
He earns 1,200 euros a month while his wife makes 600 euros working part time as a domestic helper.

After paying their monthly rent of 800 euros and 300 euros for utilities “there is not much left,” he said.

The line of people seeking help stretched far down the street. Many of them are immigrants.

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