Thousands of families are lining up for free handouts at food banks across the Netherlands
VOORBURG, Netherlands — Cans of fish, jars of pasta sauce and bags of beans are stacked in blue crates. Meat, dairy and bread are kept cold in a huge freezer and a walk-in refrigerator in this affluent Dutch town. The supplies are on hand to feed the new poor in one of the richest nations in the world.
Needy families are lining up for free handouts at food banks across the Netherlands, underscoring how poverty is taking root even in lower middle-class families and why tackling it has become a major theme in next Wednesday's parliamentary election.
If it gets any worse, «then it really becomes a scandal for society,” said Rob Kuipers, a 70-year-old retired senior civil servant who is the chairman of the local food bank in Leidschendam-Voorburg, within easy cycling distance of the parliament in The Hague.
The cost-of-living crisis, a chronic shortage of social and affordable housing and limits on access to affordable healthcare have combined to become known by the catch-all title “security of existence” in election campaigning and it's a topic all parties are addressing in their election programs.
“We, for a long time, had people living in poverty but this was always, relatively speaking, a smaller group and a quite marginal group and now this has spread to the lower middle class. And that, I think, is the reason why we are talking so much about it now,” said Maurice Crul, a professor of sociology at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.
“This was always a topic that the progressive or the left-wing parties put on the agenda,» he added. «But now you see that also populist right wing parties and the middle party is putting this on theRead more on abcnews.go.com