Berliner Tafel to the limit! War in Ukraine and rising food prices – BZ Berlin

Today Jenny (29) is number one outside the Church of the Redeemer on the Viking Shore in Tiergarten. A few weeks ago, the future tattoo artist lost her job. “I’ve been coming here to Tafel ever since,” she says. “Without the dispensary, I wouldn’t know what to cook at the end of the month. It’s my salvation.

By Bjorn Trautwein

Every Thursday from 2 p.m. there is food for the needy. A bag full of fruits, vegetables, milk and preserves for the symbolic price of 1.50 euros. The Church of the Redeemer is one of the 46 dispensaries of the “Laib und Seele” of the Berliner Tafel. Jenny has been in line for an hour. “It was quite a challenge, but an empty fridge is worse.”

About 30 volunteers help out at the Church of the Redeemer so that people like Jenny can make ends meet. They go to the surrounding supermarkets for two days. “We collect everything from Penny, Edeka, Netto, LPG, Lidl and Aldi that can no longer be sold there,” explains driver Jacqueline (56). The food is then sorted in the church. Today, the yield has been excellent: there are asparagus, lots of eggs, spices like wild garlic and even a few bouquets of tulips.

Jenny (29) is unemployed and has been coming to Tafel for six weeks.  Since food prices have risen, she can no longer look after herself and her two cats (Picture: Olaf Selchow)
Jenny (29) is unemployed and has been coming to Tafel for six weeks. Since food prices have risen, she can no longer look after herself and her two cats (Picture: Olaf Selchow)

More and more people in Berlin look like Jenny. Loaf and Soul food stores are overwhelmed. Here in Tiergarten there are now 200 families and individuals being cared for. “A few weeks ago, there were 160,” says Joachim (75), who is now coordinating the file. The helpers can therefore no longer take on new clients. A total of 130,000 people currently use the Berlin food bank, and there will be more.

A new dispensary has opened a few blocks away. Additional races are now available every Tuesday. Little information in German and Ukrainian is on a small table in front of Joachim, which he distributes to new customers. Oksana (36) is the first to get one of the white briefs today. She fled to Germany four weeks ago before the war. Friends told him about the blackboard. “I have two children and shopping is very expensive. We don’t have a lot of money and we are happy to be able to buy groceries that we can cook with.”

Lewin (66) is from Belarus and has lived in Berlin since 2004. He was self-employed, only has a small pension (Photo: Olaf Selchow)
Lewin (66) is from Belarus and has lived in Berlin since 2004. He was self-employed, only has a small pension (Photo: Olaf Selchow)

The Berliner Tafel has opened five such “pop-up sites” in recent weeks. “We want to relieve the existing issuing offices,” explains Tafel founder Sabine Werth (65) to BZ. “And we can still take care of more people. In some dispensaries, we have seen 100% growth over the past few weeks. »

More and more panels are therefore currently working at the limit. More and more people are coming from all over Germany, while the costs of the food banks themselves are rising and donations have also fallen. “The reasons for this include: more precise planning of supermarkets and high food prices, due to which many people are increasingly looking for cheap products and sometimes buying them in unnecessarily large quantities in stock,” says the Federal Association of Food Banks.

Uwe Sauer (67, right) and Gisela Seiler (81) are both retired and met years ago at the broadcast office.  Without the table, none of them would know what to eat at the end of the month (Photo: Olaf Selchow)
Uwe Sauer (67, right) and Gisela Seiler (81) are both retired and met years ago at the broadcast office. Without the table, none of them would know what to eat at the end of the month (Photo: Olaf Selchow)

The situation in Berlin is not as dramatic: “At the beginning of the year, we had fewer corporate donations. But in the meantime, this is compensated by many private donors. Berliners will not let us down,” says Sabine Werth. Nevertheless, there is sometimes less food in the food bank bags: “If the total amount remains the same but more people come, then it makes sense”, explains Sabine Werth, emphasizing: “We are only ‘an additional service. The State must also assume its responsibility.’ She therefore asks for an increase in the Hartz IV. “We keep hearing that the money just isn’t enough.” And the costs of the Tafel itself are also increasing. “So far we have spent around 4000 to 5000 euros per month on diesel, currently it is more than 8000 euros.”

Four weeks ago, Oksana (36) fled the war in Ukraine with her two children from Kharkiv.  40 Ukrainian families have also been admitted to the rescue office in recent weeks (Photo: Olaf Selchow)
Four weeks ago, Oksana (36) fled the war in Ukraine with her two children from Kharkiv. 40 Ukrainian families have also been admitted to the rescue office in recent weeks (Photo: Olaf Selchow)

On the one hand, there are refugees like Oksana, as well as many people who are suffering from rising food prices: “Many just managed to make ends meet, now it’s not possible anymore”, explains Sabine Werth. Just like Mike (65), who queues a few places behind Jenny and waits patiently for the church door to open. He worked in construction and is unemployed. “I signed up here four weeks ago,” he says. “It just wasn’t possible otherwise. The last ten days of the month are always such that money runs out.

The two pensioners Gisela Seiler (81) and Uwe Sauer (67) have been with us for a long time. They’ve been coming almost every Thursday for ten years and met here online. “We currently have to wait longer than a few months ago,” says Uwe Sauer. “I live with 363 euros of basic security. It’s not a lot of money anyway, but at current prices, it’s not even enough to live on. Recently, a pork knuckle cost me nine euros at the supermarket. Otherwise, it’s for five.

Christel (81, left) and Christiane (86) are among the oldest volunteers at the Church of the Redeemer distribution point in Tiergarten (Picture: Olaf Selchow)
Christel (81, left) and Christiane (86) are among the oldest volunteers at the Church of the Redeemer distribution point in Tiergarten (Picture: Olaf Selchow)

Gisela Seiler also only has a small pension, she has 250 euros per month to live on: “Too much to die, too little to live”, she says. She too has noticed that the line has been getting longer for a few months. “Sometimes there is less in the bag. But if someone complains, I always say: be glad the council exists, it’s much worse in war. Back then, my mother used nettles to make salad and potato skins to make soup.


The Tafel needs money and food!

The Berliner Tafel has just celebrated its 29th anniversary! It is funded solely by donations and membership fees. Anyone who wants to help can donate food. There are collection points in many shopping malls and at all Loaf and Soul distribution points. All information at: www.berliner-tafel.de. Due to rising oil and energy prices, donations are also needed.

Account: Berliner Tafel eV,
BerlinerVolksbank,
IBAN DE92 1009 0000 5457 7930 08

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