Children in France's poorest families go hungry during virus lockdown


Families who usually rely on casual work to make ends meet have been unable to earn money since the lockdown began in France on March 17th. As a result their children are starting to go hungry. On May 15th the French state will pay “emergency aid” of an extra 150 euros to families who already receive welfare benefits. But voluntary groups say this is not soon enough and that help is needed now. To fill the gap left by the state, local support groups have meanwhile been springing up across the country, in some cases led by teachers. Faïza Zerouala reports.

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Laura is used to dealing with poverty. She is a primary school teacher in one of France's education priority zones, which are designed to improve educational opportunities for children in some of the country's most disadvantaged areas. Her pupils come from Les Rosiers, a deprived housing estate in the Mediterranean city of Marseille where residents live in old run-down buildings that are, even at the best of times, bad for people's health and safety. But since France's Covid-19 lockdown began on March 17th, the existing social vulnerabilities and inequalities have been exacerbated in such areas. Children are not now just living in poor housing, they are going hungry too.