Life as a table-“customer”
Life as a table'kunde'

About the concrete life situation of poor people in the big city

The idea of the food banks is an integral part of neoliberal politics and at the same time a cheap concept for waste disposal, because the products of the food banks are mainly goods whose expiration date has been reached or exceeded and which therefore can no longer be sold. Disposing of the waste by handing it over to the food banks is cheaper than disposing of it on gauze for a fee. Not even transport costs arise, because the Tafeln fetch the food.

The number of people who pick up food from the 940 food banks in Germany has been rising steadily for years. In 2019, it increased by 10 percent to 1.65 million people, ten percent more than in the previous year. Since the beginning of the "Blackboard movement", The governmental authorities have strongly demanded the institutionalization of the Tafeln, also in order to be able to keep the benefit amounts for the payments as low as possible in accordance with the Social Security Code II/Hartz-IV.

McKinsey, the world-wide management consultation, has meanwhile very much experience with the social system in Germany. She is also responsible for the de-boarding of hundreds of thousands of people who were employed in the company she advised. McKinsey also played a major role in the Hartz concept and was a member of the Hartz Commission.

The guiding principle is always that social benefits and corporate taxes must be reduced.

Blackboards as the result of a failed social policy

From a socio-political point of view, this flat-covering food bank offer is extremely problematic, since

  • food distribution can alleviate poverty, but it cannot eliminate poverty and its causes,
  • the Tafeln as emergency aid reduce the prere on the policy to reduce the causes of the poverty,
  • it prevents the guarantee of a poverty-free, needs-based and living minimum income, which would make the food banks and other charitable services superfluous in the future,
  • they provide only survival assistance and emergency supplies, they prevent the opening of available perspectives for action for the needy, which have an effect beyond the alleviation of the acute need,
  • In media coverage and in the public eye, food banks appear to be a sufficient safeguard against poverty, and their widespread use gives the impression of a complete and sufficient range of assistance, which in reality reaches only a fraction of those in need, thus pushing the actual fight against poverty into the background,
  • it slows down the people to stand up for conditions, which "Befahigungsgedanken"The social code’s claim to what the pioneers of the food bank movement wanted, namely that the state "self-determined participation" supports,
  • what the masterminds of the food bank movement wanted has happened, namely that the state has gradually withdrawn and will continue to withdraw from the provision of services of general interest to its citizens, with reference to the civil society,
  • that the state, in response to the help provided by the food banks, is cutting back on its resources, because, for example.B. ยง 9 SGB I says: "Those who are unable to earn their own living or to help themselves in special circumstances, and who do not receive sufficient help from other sources, have the right to personal and economic assistance that meets their special needs, enables them to help themselves, participates in the life of the community, and ensures that they can lead a life worthy of a human being. The beneficiaries must participate in this process to the best of their abilities",
  • the existence and expansion of welfare state security systems and the establishment of professional, qualified social work presuppose the abolition of charitable gifts based on chance and the accompanying dependencies for needy people. The random possible assistance must be countered by individual rights that ensure the participation of all members of society,
  • by saving the cost of foodstuffs, food banks enable the needy to consume goods that should have been included in the basket of goods for a fee. The so-called. The basket of goods is used to determine the standard rate,
  • According to the Bundesverband Deutsche Tafel e.V. of the ca. 9 million people in Germany depend on social benefits, about 1 million go to the food bank. The boards see these 8 million people as "untapped potential" and carry out appropriate canvassing. The "Customer loyalty" at Tafeln serves only to maintain the neediness and is the opposite of a structural fight against poverty,
  • Instead of working towards the abolition of poverty, the food banks participate in the division of society into rich and poor. The long lines in front of the distribution points signal to all people that our social system allows such things and that one can quickly become a food bank user oneself and then become one of the poor "to whom" belongs to
  • the large influx of people to the food banks is a sign of a misguided social policy in general. A social policy that is responsible for excluding large parts of our society from equal participation, shortchanging these people materially and then permanently patronizing, humiliating and sanctioning them with the Social Code II (Sozialgesetzbuch II).

Life as a table-"customer"



An insight into the practical work of the food bank can be gained, however, when the users of the food bank have their say. Then it can be heard that

  • it is something completely different than going shopping in the supermarket,
  • people usually have to wait in line, sometimes for half an hour, sometimes for up to two and a half hours, sometimes standing in the rain or having to go to the toilet,
  • the order is regulated with numbers,
  • when it is the turn of the Tafel visitors, they are not allowed to choose for themselves, but they get food packed into the bag by the helpers,
  • the goods are thrown into the bag, you can not look at them or ask questions,
  • Sometimes there are goods that the customers cannot eat for health reasons,
  • often there is only the same kind of vegetables for 3 weeks,
  • Volunteers at the food bank are often described as reserved and unfriendly,
  • the helpers can also determine who gets how much food,
  • from the users "modesty and humility" is expected,
  • they are put into a passive and powerless role,
  • they feel embarrassed,
  • which "needy call" users have to show their Hartz IV or pension certificate in order to get food
  • everyone is aware of the fact that it is a friendly gift, which can also fail to materialize.

It is astonishing that such a movement as the food bank movement has grown flatly with the help of a management consulting firm. The high acceptance of the food banks among the population was the result of a mission that wanted to bring forward the welfare state in order to make it more competitive "fed through" becomes. The high acceptance of the food banks among the population is the result of a mission that wanted to bring forward the welfare state to "Social romantics", to discredit those who advocate the welfare state.

If the state, represented by the parliaments at the federal and state levels, was to take the welfare state requirement of the Basic Law seriously, it had to ensure through its legislation that there need not be food donations to the needy by civil society organizations and welfare associations.

The article by Laurenz Nurk appeared first on Gewerkschaftsforum.de appeared and is under the CC license BY-NC-ND 3.0.

Sources: WAZ, WDR, Tafel Deutschland e. V., SGB

Image: Bundesverband Tafel