Poverty on the rise as more people resort to foodbanks, parishes for help

As more people feel the pinch, many are resorting to foodbanks, parishes, and poverty support groups to meet their weekly needs

Poverty is on the rise, with more people having to resort to foodbanks, parishes, and poverty support groups to feed themselves as prices increase.

According to newspaper Illum, many people working in such foodbanks and volunteer groups have noticed that more people are starting to make use of their services.

Fr Hilary Tagliaferro, who heads the Millenium Chapel in Paceville, told the newspaper that many individuals and families have their backs against the wall – and most of these are Maltese nationals.

He pointed to three areas where price increases are aggravating poverty rates, namely in essential products, medicines, and rents.

On top of this, Taglaferro said that many people have been left without a roof over their head. “There are 300 people who are homeless. Homeless shelters are full. Come here by night and see the amount of people asleep along the beachfront. There are usually three other people sleeping next to [our chapel],” he said.

The Millenium Chapel operates a foodbank, which is currently offering free food to around 200 families every month. He said that the chapel itself is also struggling with inflation, but many companies and individuals have been helping with donations in cash and in food.

Barbara Caruana, manager of the Foodbank Lifeline Foundation, explained to the newspaper that the number of families in need has risen well above pre-pandemic levels.

She said that the Foodbank used to help around 100 families every week before the pandemic broke out. Nowadays, it offers food to around 250 families a week.

The Foodbank provides each family a weeks’ worth of groceries for a total of six weeks. Caruana remarked that, since the foodbank provides basic foodstuffs, the foundation is also feeling the pinch as price increases have impacted the most basic items of food and drink.

Fr Mark Andre Camilleri, the local parish priest of Raħal Ġdid, similarly said that many people have reached out to the church asking for help as they were struggling to make ends meet.

He added that many foreigners have also resorted to the parish church because of their precarious working conditions. “Some people are exploited, but because they have no documents, they cannot report this,” he said.

Fr Anton Cassar, the archpriest of the Bormla parish, noticed an increase in poverty too. He said that the parish is handing out no less than 180 sets of groceries per month to people in need.