"A pack of milk is almost inaccessible": with inflation, food insecurity is accentuated

“A pack of milk is almost inaccessible”: with inflation, food insecurity is accentuated

“Sometimes I look at my shopping cart and wonder what I’m going to have to remove before checking out.” Lucas, 23, has seen the price of food go up and the contents of his shopping bag go down since starting his studies in 2019. Before, “I regularly bought myself meat”, recalls the communication student Toulouse. An expense that he had to skip today, for lack of means.

And his situation is far from isolated. In a study published on Wednesday, the Crédoc (Research Center for the Study and Observation of Living Conditions) points to a significant “increase in food insecurity” in the French population. The proportion of people declaring that they “did not eat enough” was 16% in November 2022, compared to 12% in July 2022 and 9% in 2016. And it is the under 40s who find themselves “most often in quantitative food insufficiency (24%).

Say goodbye to meat and cheese

Mathieu *, a chemistry student in Amiens, also 23 years old, says he occasionally has breakfast in a solidarity grocery store in La Fage (Federation of General Student Associations). Otherwise, “many of us miss it, some by choice, others strategically”, in order to avoid additional expense.

In question, the Covid-19 crisis followed by inflation, which was measured at nearly 15% over one year in April. And this, while several items of expenditure have increased for the French, in particular energy. “A pack of milk is almost inaccessible,” laments Mathieu, not to mention the cheese, butter, meat and even fruit that reach “exorbitant prices” for his wallet.

The Restos du Cœur thus indicate that between March 2022 and March 2023, the number of people welcomed jumped by 22%. An unprecedented increase, described as “alarming” by the association, with a growing share of beneficiaries among those under 25 in recent years.

Precariousness and anxiety

Lucas also underlines the psychological impact of this precariousness, explaining that he experienced “a period of anxiety at the start of the year” and made permanent calculations to know what he could or could not buy. The young man completes his shopping via a branch of the Linkee association, which helps students. “It’s less stress, it helps a lot,” he says.

To alleviate the current situation, Emmanuel Macron declared on Monday that the “anti-inflation quarter” in supermarkets, set up by the government, “could be” extended “if necessary” beyond June 15. The President of the Republic also said he hoped that the inflation on food products would be “absorbed (…) by the fall”.

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