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Emer Costello announces EU food aid

In the course of a Seanad address, Emer Costello MEP announced the European Commission proposal of €2.5bn for food for the poor where she would be the Parliament rapporteur (Seanad Eireann, Debates, 28th February 2013, 622-627).  It would provide food and essential goods to the poor, homeless and children for 2014-2020.  EU food intervention from surplus stock went back to 1987 and it was the only European programme that reached directly out to people living on the margins.  It had become an important support for NGOs and charities working with people who were homeless and suffering material deprivation, such as Crosscare, Brother Kevin and the Cappuchin Day Centre.  The programme never sought to resolve food poverty, but it was a crucial support to them.  The original programme from surplus stocks had been phased out, but NGOs and Parliament believed that it was such an important programme that it should not be terminated without a replacement.  Not to so so would send a negative message at a time when there was a huge increase in poverty.  The new programme was proposed by the Commission last October, called Fund for European Aid for the most Deprived, or FEAD.  It would enable member states, working with NGOs, to provide food and other assistance.  It was estimated that there were 4m homeless across Europe, who were increasingly including young adults and migrants.  FEAD would provide food and provision for everyday items which homeless people and children could not get.  It was not a substitute for the comprehensive policies needed to reduce poverty, but it was a practical expression and tangible recognition that the Union was prepared to play its part in addressing the issue.


Mary Moran (Lab, Taoiseach nominee) asked about the engagement with non-governmental organizations and how Ireland could be expected to gain from the fund.  Measures like this were necessary more than ever as more people slipped into the poverty trap.  Emer Costello replied by saying that they were very much engaging with NGOs and she had organized a seminar in Dublin with about a hundred people attending, many being NGOs and had also met with German, French and Belgian NGOs.