Nearly 214,000 people in Belgium relied on food banks in 2023

In 2023, 213,873 people in Belgium were forced to turn to food banks for food, the Belgian Federation of Food Banks said at a press conference on Friday. They distributed 23,571 tonnes of food last year, equivalent to 47 million meals, a new record for the country.

"More and more single parent families, pensioners and students have no choice but to turn to one of our 673 member organisations for food. As many as 21 per cent of our beneficiaries are single mothers," said Marc Mertens, deputy director of the federation.

Demand keeps increasing

In 2022, 209,450 people were dependent on food banks. Since 2019 - a turbulent period marked by Covid-19, the war in Ukraine and rising energy prices - food banks have seen a 27 per cent increase in demand.

Despite the increased demand, the federation provided the same amount of food per beneficiary. More than 8,000 tonnes of food came from the European Social Fund. Supermarkets donated 7,779 tonnes of food, 7.7 per cent more than in 2022, and the food industry donated 5,692 tonnes, 16 per cent more than last year.

The federation had to buy 1,311 tonnes of food itself in 2023 to meet demand, 65 per cent more than in 2020. Until 2019, the federation was had never had to buy food.

Political memorandum

In the run-up to the regional and federal elections in June, the federation presented a memorandum to the political parties in which it identified a number of problems that make it difficult to operate sustainably.

For example, in many cases, it is more economical to destroy surplus food than to donate it, the federation said. It is calling for additional tax measures that would encourage companies to donate food.



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