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Surviving off food packages: Poverty-stricken Portuguese turn to charity

Published time: September 25, 2013 18:25

Volunteers load a van with donations of food for charities at the Food Bank Against Hunger center in Lisbon (AFP Photo / Patricia De Melo Moreira)

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As austerity continues to wreak havoc for families in Portugal, people are turning to volunteer charities to provide them with food parcels. Charities are now essential in the lives of increasingly deprived sectors of the population.

Re-Food, the brainchild of Hunter Hadler, supports families overwhelmed by bills and mortgages, collecting unsold food from participating local cafes and restaurants who would otherwise be throwing out perfectly good products at the end of the day.

“We have people who suddenly don’t have work and don’t have income – it’s a harder thing for them to take,” Hadler told RT’s Sara Firth.

What started as a solo operation, with about 30 restaurants on board, has grown into an organization with hundreds of volunteers and over 150 restaurants and cafes helping the cause.

While unemployment has dropped in the country slightly, having decreased to 16.4 percent in the second quarter of 2013 from 17.7 percent in the first quarter, it still remains horrendously high – above average for even the recession-devastated Eurozone – and people, including those from middle-class backgrounds, who are suddenly pushed out of work, are turning to the charity for help.

For more, watch RT’s Sara Firth's report from Lisbon