4,000 vulnerable families to receive food packages next year

Social solidarity minister Micahel Farrugia says food aid packages designed to be as healthy and balanced as possible. 

Social solidarity minister Michael Farrugia addresses a press conference.
Social solidarity minister Michael Farrugia addresses a press conference.

Just under 4,000 families in Malta will receive food packages throughout 2016 as part of an EU-funded scheme.

Social solidarity minister Michael Farrugia told a press conference that the project – as part of the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived – will provide people living in poverty with food packages weighing between 10-15kg.

“The food items within the packages were agreed upon after extensive discussions to ensure the healthiest balance possible, and will include pasta, vegetables, cereals and milk,” Farrugia said.

"We also made an effort to make sure there were little salts and sugars in the packages.”

The packages will be distributed every quarter of the year, with the first one available between 18 and 22 January.

They will be available for families with over one child under 16 who receive means-tested and non-contributory benefits, families with over one child under 16 who earn less than the minimum wage, and non-single families who receive an elderly pension.

All the families in question will receive a 15 kg box while the most vulnerable families will also receive a supplementary package weighing 10kg.

The packages will be available from 16 LEAP centres including in Qawra, Birgu, Msida, Valletta, Santa Lucija, Marsascala, Zurrieq, Kirkop and Qormi. They will also be available at social security offices in Mosta, Zejtun, San Gwan , Rabat, Marsa and Zebbug, as well as at the office of social welfare in St Venera.

"Around 40 people will be involved in the distribution and the packages will be checked against ID cards and an official invite the families will receive detailing times and location of collection,” Farrugia said, while stressing that the distribution would also be vetted by the EU to ensure there are no abuses. 

“The scheme, is part of the European Strategy 2020 to reduce poverty and social exclusion, and the scheme will also allow us to strengthen our outreach programmes,” Farrugia said, explaining that those eligible for the packages would also be offered assistance to earn more independence and sustainability.

Farrugia said that the tender to distribute the food had only been answered by the Foundation of social welfare services and that the company supplying the food would be the Vivian corporation.

“The government will also be launching two other projects in parallel to this one to help those at risk of or living in poverty,” he said.

He explained that another food distribution programme would be designed to assist those that might not be targeted under the EU programme and that it would be financed with national funds.

“We are already working on the third programme, which will involve the ministry, the Church and even the private sector, and it will involve a food bank,” he said adding that the project would be announced once a strategic partner was found.

Farrugia also explained that the outreach programme to assess the condition of those families in need would also help to identify new families as the list of those eligible might change according to the families’ circumstances.

“These programmes are part of the government’s efforts to help those in need and to provide them with more empowerment to achieve what they hope to achieve.”