Trash in bins and in crates outside of store fronts in Spain are being foraged as many people have found themselves without work and without much money, if any, for food.
Many Spaniards are living on wages or benefits as low as 400 euros, or about $520 a month. For young people in the country, the unemployment rate is as high as 50 percent and many household have adults without jobs. Instead of spending money on food, many search through the trash, hoping to find something edible, The New York Timesreports.
Dumpster diving has become so commonplace that one city has started locking supermarket trash bins after closing time as a public health prevention.
A Catholic charity, named Caritas, released a report saying it had fed nearly one million Spaniards in 2010, which was almost double than in 2007. In one year’s time, they fed an additional 65,000 people in 2011.
Many austerity measures have been introduced in a desperate attempt to salvage Spain’s economy, much like Greece’s efforts.
The government recently raised the value-added tax by three percentage points, at 21 percent, for most goods and an additional two percentage points on food items-making it even harder for those on the fringes.
For a larger number of people, foraging in trash bins is becoming a more common way to cover the bases.
For many Spaniards, the need to ask for help with bare essentials is particularly embarrassing. The New York Times recalled angry glares from foragers because of the presence of journalists.
Eduardo Berloso, an official in Girona, the city where trash bins have been locked, says “It’s against the dignity of these people to have to look for food in this manner.”
Berloso’s decision has created an uproar throughout the country though. Recently in a Jean Valjean type of act, Spaniards raided supermarkets for basic food, giving it to those in need.
A socialist councilor in Girona, Pia Bosch, repudiated Berloso’s decision:
“The social workers or civil agents could refer people to the food distribution center without having to lock bins, it’s like killing a fly with a cannonball.”