Lack of food is one of the most striking stigmas of poverty.
According to the European Commission, 13 million people benefit from the Most Deprived Food Aid Program.
Hunger is generally considered as a third world issue, only affecting extremely poor people.
Yet in 2010, 36% of the EU population could not afford to pay for any unexpected financial expenses, and around 115.5 million people — 23 % of the population — were considered to be at risk of poverty or social exclusion according to Eurostat. This shows that a significantly increasing part of European population, single mothers, working poor, retirees or unemployed, live on the edge of poverty.
The purpose of A.N.D.E.S. (Association Nationale de Développement des Epiceries Solidaires) is to help promoting economical citizenship through a form of food aid respectful of people's dignity and freedom, through solidarity stores, and projects to help the people who beneficiate from it to reintegrate the working society.
What is a social/solidarity store?
Social and solidarity stores are local convenience stores where people with low income can buy everyday goods for about 10 or 20 % of their "regular retailing price".
This form of food aid was created in France in the 1980's, as an addition to a system of free distribution essentially meant for homeless or very poor people.
Instead, solidarity stores are meant for people with low income (working poor, unemployed, retirees with a low pension etc.) who can't afford buying food in "normal" supermarkets but who are, on the other hand, reluctant to benefit from charity.
Giving people the choice between different products, and having them pay for it just like any customer of a regular store, and thus preserving their dignity, is the principle of social stores. It serves the purpose of stopping dependence on charity, and relieving beneficiaries from the feeling of being endebted. By significantly reducing the part of the budget spent on food (which is quite important for a low income household), social stores give people the opportunity to save money for a project, in case of a hardship, or just to improve their everyday life.
But their retailing activity is just but a pretext for larger solidarity actions : They are places where people can be listened to and exchange, where they are helped to get back or reinforce their self-esteem and their will to go back to the outside world.
In order to help each and everyone rebuild links with society, and realize their own value and competences, they organize many activities, such as cooking lessons, cosmetic workshops, parents-children activities, employment reintegration, etc.
How does it work?
The access to social stores is dependent upon socioeconomic and family criterias (number of children, etc.) ; Generally, people’s income is close to the poverty line, but each structure defines its own criteria depending on the local social context. The idea is to be able to respond to specific situations, like an unexpected expense, an accident, or sudden unemployment, so that a household would not fall down to severe poverty.
Difference between social and solidarity stores
In France, social stores are usually run by associations working in close relations with local social services with which they review applications and decide of a period during which the beneficiaries can have access to the stores.
On average, people go to these stores for a period of 2 or 3 months, but that can be extended up to 6 months or even a year, depending on situations.
These stores are supported by local authorities, by organizations such as the Food Bank and the Red Cross, by foundations and by private companies, through local or national partnerships.
The difference between social and solidarity stores is that social stores are the responsability of one or several towns and are public-funded, while solidarity stores result from individuals or associations grouped together and are cross-funded.
A.N.D.E.S., a national network
A.N.D.E.S. is an association created in 2000 by Guillaume Bapst –its current director, following his development of a solidarity store in Nevers in 1996, that led him into guiding more and more similar initiatives after it aroused a fast growing political and media interest.
Our main missions are:
►To help creating social and solidarity stores wherever there is a need for it and ensure their long lasting activity.
To date, A.N.D.E.S. has helped creating around 50 stores in France.
► To animate the solidarity stores network in order to extend its practices, run national estimates and promote these structures to public and private partners, as well as medias.
► To develop service for the solidarity stores, especially by proposing workshops on nutrition or team management, and training for volunteers
► To supply these stores with quality products by developing national and local partnerships with food industries, hypermarket chains and local cultivators. For instance, we have developed partnerships with Ferrero France, Carrefour, Simply Market...
► To develop professional integration workshops that will help to process the excesses of the fruits & vegetables sector for solidarity stores and other food aid organizations.
Access to fruits & vegetables, and professional insertion
It is also a step in fighting against the waste of natural ressources, since these workshops are meant for processing fruits and vegetables that otherwise would have been destroyed as they are not considered saleable in supermarkets.
► Le Potager de Marianne, created in 2008, in Rungis, one of the largest wholesale market in the world. There 20 employees collect and sort unsold fruits and vegetables, which are then repacked and delivered to local associations (such as the Red Cross, les Restos du Coeur, le Secours Populaire...). In 2011, 741 tons of fruits and vegetables were distributed to 49 social/solidarity stores and associations in the Paris region.
Since July 2011, this workshop is also delivering a service for the FRESHCORNER company, which allows the employees to experience a different and rigourous activity while helping the workshop financing itself.
► La Cistella de Marianne, created in 2009, in Perpignan. Like Rungis’ workshop, the « Cistella » employs 17 persons to collect and sort unsold fruits and vegetables, repack and deliver them to local associations. In 2011, 268 tons of fruits and vegetables were distributed to 35 points of delivery of the French food aid chain in the Pyrénées-Orientales, Aude, and Haute-Garonne departments.
And it is now developping a site to process fruits and vegetables into jam, juice, or soup.
► La Banaste de Marianne, created in 2010, in Marseille. In 2011, it employed 12 persons hired with 6 months contracts, to collect and sort unsold fruits and vegetables, repack and deliver them to local associations. In 2011, it delivered 178 tons of fruits and vegetables to 32 points of delivery of the French food aid chain in the PACA region.
► Le Gardin de Marianne, created in 2011, in Lomme (close to Lille, North of France). It employed 12 persons for its first year, and develops the same kind of activity as the other professional insertion workshops : collect and sort unsold fruits and vegetables, repack and deliver them to local associations.
In 2011, it distributed 101 tons of fruits and vegetables to 27 points of delivery of the French food aid chain in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region.
La Grande Maison
Because of the increasing demand in fruits and vegetables from food aid organizations, in 2012 A.N.D.E.S. has opened a different type of professional integration workshop, « La Grande Maison », in Basse-Normandie. This project is to create a farm in order to lower its purchase costs for fruits and vegetables, while consolidating its professional integration policy.
This project is situated in the Orne departement, an area where the social and professional situation are very precarious for 14.6% of the population, and where agriculture is traditionally an important economic sector.
This project’s aims are: To create professional integration possibilities in the agricultural sector ; Partnerships with other economical sectors in order to respond to the beneficiaries’ professional aspirations. To create every year 12 for professional integration. This will help revitalize local employment through training adapted to the labor pool.
In order to encourage professional integration, A.N.D.E.S. wishes to acquire the mechanical tools necessary for modern agriculture. To do so, a partnership between A.N.D.E.S. and agricultural equipment constructors has been established. Thanks to this partnership, experts will also help us develop an efficient and sustainable farming model for this project.
500 social and solidarity stores in France.
Between 120 000 and 170 00 "clients" per year.
On average, a social store caters for 100 households per year.
In 2011, A.N.D.E.S. received from its partners (Ferrero, Danone, Yoplait, Paniers de la Mer) about 101.7 tons of products, to be distributed in solidarity stores through its professional integration workshops in Rungis, Perpignan, Marseille and Lille. It includes dairy products, seafood, and other products of these companies.
Its professional integration workshops in different wholesale markets have contributed to distribute a total of 1289 tons of fruits and vegetables to food aid organizations in the 4 regions where they are situated.
The professional integration workshops have welcomed a total of 85 persons, and the results for the beneficiaries of these workshops (long-term employment, transition job, motivation to search for job opportunities) are 67.5% positive.
There are also several solidarity stores in Belgium, Luxemburg, Austria, Romania and a few in Greece
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