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No Food For Hungry Refugees?

In Germany, a food charity requires people to show a German passport before getting fed: [1]

The charity Essener Tafel called it a temporary restriction necessary because the share of foreigners using the food bank had soared to 75% in recent years.

The charity says it helps about 16,000 poor people in Essen, a city in the western industrial Ruhr region.

Vandals have sprayed “Nazis” on the charity’s delivery vans.

Mrs Merkel spoke out against Essener Tafel’s new rule requiring visitors to show a German passport in order to receive food.

“One shouldn’t run services on the basis of such categorisations. That’s not good. But it also shows the amount of pressure there is, and how many people are needy. That’s why I hope they can find good solutions which do not exclude groups,” she told the broadcaster RTL.

The man who runs the charity says critics have it all wrong:

Earlier, he said the restriction had nothing to do with xenophobia; he said it was all about fairness, because large numbers of elderly women and single mothers had stopped coming to Essener Tafel.

change_me

What a terrible situation. On the one hand, it is repulsive that hungry people who don’t have German passports can’t get anything to eat from this group. On the other hand, if there is not enough food to feed poor and suffering Germans, what is the food bank supposed to do? Does not a nation have a primary (though not exclusive) obligation of charity to their own people?

If you go to the group’s website [2] (browsing on Chrome allows you to instantly translate it to English), you’ll see that they’re based on an American model, in which they collect leftover food locally, and distribute it. The amount of food is not infinite; it’s based only on what people in Essen donate. What would you do if you were running the charity?

The answer is for the German federal government to get involved by augmenting the feeding of the refugees, given that the federal government caused the problem by taking in many more than Germany can absorb. I can’t see any justification for letting people go hungry. That said, people should leave Essener Tafel alone. What’s happening to them is, in part, an example of what happens when political elites ignore or push aside the interests of their own people. How is it fair for elderly, hungry Germans and single German mothers to do without food to feed foreigners invited en masse into the country by the government?

UPDATE: A German reader e-mails:

The thing is, the “Tafeln” have always drawn criticism, the main point being that caring for the poor should be the government’s responsibility. Effectively, the “Tafeln” were (and are) blamed for enabling the government to neglect its duties. I guess criticising a private charity for lightening the public welfare’s workload is a pretty alien concept for Americans, but there it is. 

It is important to note, though, that the “Tafeln” were never meant as a surrogate for public welfare but merely as an augmentation. So if somebody doesn’t get food at the “Tafel”, that doesn’t mean they have to starve. 

At the same time, I think the real problem the “Tafeln” (in Essen and elsewhere) are facing is NOT that there isn’t enough food. According to estimates, between 11 and 18 million tons of food products are wasted in Germany each year. About 100.000 tons are donated to the “Tafeln”. The main reason why they don’t get more than that is that they have to stick to very strict regulations regarding food safety. Plus, they’re running out of volunteers. In some places (other than Essen) hundreds of volunteers have quit after being insulted and assaulted by food recipients. Being labeled “nazis” after the Essen “refugee ban” uproar certainly won’t help either. 

(Your reader “Matt in VA” has brought up the question whether elderly women and single mothers have stopped coming to the Essener Tafel “because the food bank runs out of food or because they don’t feel safe”. I think he’s on the right track there.) 

One reason why I’m kind of concerned with this topic is that my wife volunteers for a grassroots charity campaign group called “Foodsharing” that collects unmarketable food products from bakeries, supermarkets and so on, and I sometimes help with that. The “Foodsharing” campaign is much less regulated than the “Tafeln”, so they can collect goods that the “Tafeln” won’t take. You wouldn’t believe the quantities of food my wife brings home sometimes. Good food. We eat some of it ourselves, but for the most part we donate it to soup kitchens, homeless shelters and the like. 

34 Comments (Open | Close)

34 Comments To "No Food For Hungry Refugees?"

#1 Comment By Matt in VA On February 27, 2018 @ 3:17 pm

Earlier, he said the restriction had nothing to do with xenophobia; he said it was all about fairness, because large numbers of elderly women and single mothers had stopped coming to Essener Tafel.

Why have they stopped coming? Because the food bank runs out of food often? Or because they don’t feel safe? (The fact that they say women, specifically, have stopped coming makes me wonder.)

#2 Comment By kgasmart On February 27, 2018 @ 3:17 pm

No wonder AfD is picking up votes and support.

#3 Comment By Noah172 On February 27, 2018 @ 3:26 pm

A better solution for the charity might be to limit service to women, children, and the elderly, rather than make it explicitly nationality-based. (There may be a German law against such discrimination, although this passport requirement does not appear to be illegal.) The charity doesn’t want healthy young male layabouts, most of whom are going to be foreigners (presumably), gobbling up all the food. Very defensible to stop that. There would be less controversy, and the result would be the same, if the charity just re-labeled their new policy.

#4 Comment By midtown On February 27, 2018 @ 3:36 pm

Noah172 has an OK suggestion, but what if there is an elderly male pensioner needing the food? It is entirely within their rights to say, we started this charity x number of years ago for the needy of Essen. If we have extra, the new refugees/”refugees” can have that. But we feed our people first. And I would say that wealthy Europeans who supported the refugee wave should pony up to pay for the food. Don’t offload your choices onto the taxpayer.

#5 Comment By Pogonip On February 27, 2018 @ 3:38 pm

I’d feed the Germans first, then the foreigners, and if I ran out of food before I ran out of foreigners I would tell the remaining hungry foreigners to go to Angela Merkel’s house.

#6 Comment By redbrick On February 27, 2018 @ 3:41 pm

If you look it up you will see that in some German cities the authorities forced local ethnic Germans out of their government homes/apartments to make room for Merkel’s sons.

Again not much media complaining when poor native families were being told to get out of their own homes to make room for 28 year olds from Afghanistan.

Seriously, people forced out of their houses to make room for young men from a different country who they personally did not invite……how could there not be an angry reaction?

#7 Comment By John Gruskos On February 27, 2018 @ 3:50 pm

1 Timothy 5:8

God commanded, charity begins at home.

A nation is an extended family. Germans are all cousins of each other, with a God-ordained duty to take care of each other before taking care of non-family.

#8 Comment By Arkansas Agrarian On February 27, 2018 @ 4:10 pm

I agree with you that,in this case, the federal government of Germany should get involved, since they did create this problem. Notice the response of Merkel. She said that THEY should find a solution the problem that SHE created (with the support of her party and other parties, of course). That is an example of a complete failure of leadership.

When I first read this, I thought of a Bible verse, but could not think of the particular one. I’m glad that John Gruskos commented 1 Timothy 5:8. My Bible’s version says: “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.”

I don’t think that the charity is wrong to restrict its beneficiaries. Despite what our left-leaning friends say, such things as “peoples,” in some formulation, exist, have always existed, and will always exist, at least until the new heaven and new earth. A natural result is that our loyalties primarily lie with our people.

I also wonder about the sex distribution and age range of “refugees” in Germany. How many are fighting-age males from the middle east, who, rather than stay in their homelands to fight for the side they thought was right and eventually rebuild their country, fled the strife, and now expect to be supported by others? That should factor into any decision to give them aid.

#9 Comment By charles cosimano On February 27, 2018 @ 4:13 pm

Noah has a good idea but I would change it to only men and the elderly.

#10 Comment By GSW On February 27, 2018 @ 4:18 pm

As quoted by the BBC, Merkel’s reaction is a classic evasion of any responsibility on the part of Germany’s entitled and precious political class in having created this problem in the first place.

“One shouldn’t run services on the basis of such categorisations. That’s not good. But it also shows the amount of pressure there is, and how many people are needy. That’s why I hope they can find good solutions which do not exclude groups.”

Yes, let’s all hope **they** can “find” solutions. Perhaps Merkel can invite the ‘excluded groups’ to eat cake at her house.

#11 Comment By Raskolnik On February 27, 2018 @ 4:36 pm

The answer is for the German federal government to get involved by augmenting the feeding of the refugees

The answer is for the German federal government to get involved by deporting all the so-called “refugees.”

#12 Comment By David J White On February 27, 2018 @ 4:45 pm

Noah172 has an OK suggestion, but what if there is an elderly male pensioner needing the food?

Noah said “elderly,” not “elderly women.”

#13 Comment By March Hare On February 27, 2018 @ 5:02 pm

No question, if the German federal government created this problem, they should step up and help fix it. Leave the local NGO alone as it tries to do the best it can with what it has.

And at the risk of violating somebody’s sense of dignity, I do wonder whether the behavior or mannerisms of some of the immigrants contributes to local single moms’ reluctance to use the facility.

Petty irony alert for those of you who don’t speak the language: “essen” means “eat” in German.

#14 Comment By workingdad On February 27, 2018 @ 5:22 pm

Easy fix.

Give all the immigrants a passport!

Now who is the xenophobe?

#15 Comment By Janwaar Bibi On February 27, 2018 @ 5:46 pm

The grim irony here is that most of these “refugees” are Muslims, and under Islamic law, charity (zakaat) in Islamic countries is usually given only to Muslims. Here is a fatwa on this matter from one of the most prominent Islamic Q&A sites:

[3]

“It is permissible to give charity to non-Muslims and this action will be rewarded, if they are in need of it, but they should not be given the obligatory charity, i.e. zakaat, unless they are those whose hearts are to be softened (i.e., they are close to embracing Islam)…Muslims should seek first and foremost to give their charity to their Muslim brothers who are in need, and there are plenty of them. And Allaah knows best.”

********************
These people in Europe have really lost their minds.

#16 Comment By Adam Loumeau On February 27, 2018 @ 5:51 pm

“The answer is for the German federal government to get involved by augmenting the feeding of the refugees, given that the federal government caused the problem by taking in many more than Germany can absorb. I can’t see any justification for letting people go hungry. That said, people should leave Essener Tafel alone. What’s happening to them is, in part, an example of what happens when political elites ignore or push aside the interests of their own people. How is it fair for elderly, hungry Germans and single German mothers to do without food to feed foreigners invited en masse into the country by the government?”

What a great closing paragraph. I couldn’t agree more Rod. The issue to me is localism, which is a crude instrument to try to describe this situation but I lack for a better one. The local Germans who are born and raised there need to come first because, once again, this is a local charity with limited means. How does a savage free-for-all over the charity’s limited resources amount to a better system than checking for passports?!

Obviously, the national government needs to step in. But does this story not do as good of a job as any of highlighting the importance of local governance and how such a concept seems to be getting lost? The backlash to Brexit was largely about the “arrogance” that the British showed in thinking they were better off with more local governance (relatively speaking).

This has nothing to do with turning our backs on those “other people” who come from a different country or who look differently than us. It has everything to do with having a plan instead of just blindly appealing to ideology and bureaucratic excesses.

#17 Comment By WorkingClass On February 27, 2018 @ 6:36 pm

The answer is for the German federal government to get involved by augmenting the feeding of the refugees, given that the federal government caused the problem by taking in many more than Germany can absorb.

DING!

Give this man a cigar!

#18 Comment By Vogellaender On February 27, 2018 @ 7:12 pm

First of all, nobody in Germany is dependent on food aid. Everybody gets enough money to buy food.

I strongly suspect that the people getting food from <> belong to the following groups:

1. People who have a very small pension which instead of getting social assistance choose to supplement their living this way. This is a honorable thing.

2. People who live on social assistance but have difficulty to exert enough financial discipline to survive solely by the money they received, especially families. This is understandable.

3. Various people on the fringes of society.

4. Refugees who choose to send the money they have received to their families back home and instead supplement their food in this way. This is understandable, although not very honorable.

The last group might lack an understanding what social security means and might perceive it as some kind of rent.

<> in this city has decided to disallow new applications by people without German citizenship. It still serves, as it reports itself, foreigners at a rate 75% of all supplicants.

The reasons for stopping these new applications are not transparent to me; I do not think that it is just some old people fearing all the young guys standing in line; maybe they really do not have enough capacity.

#19 Comment By sjb On February 27, 2018 @ 7:39 pm

RD: “What would you do if you were running the charity?”

For several years, I was a volunteer in the Alms giving program in a large church. We screened everyone who asked for assistance. Screening was necessary in order to be good stewards of our limited alms resources. It had to be done to weed out the people who abused charities. I don’t know why people assume everyone who comes to an organization for food, clothing, household items is honest. They aren’t. Some make a tidy living ripping off as many organizations as possible and move to the next town when locals catch on to them. I doubt Essen is free of those types of migrants and they would be wise to not be pigeons for them.

#20 Comment By James C. On February 27, 2018 @ 8:00 pm

How is it fair for elderly, hungry Germans and single German mothers to do without food to feed foreigners invited en masse into the country by the government?

Here in Italy there is fury over this same issue. The government pays out €1,000 a month in direct support for each migrant (most of whom are young male non-refugees) who has invited himself into the country. That’s more than millions of elderly Italians receive each month in their pensions. And there are additional millions more younger Italians in absolute poverty, with little welfare to count on. Unemployment is extremely high, the economy is smaller than it was 10 years ago, and young people are leaving the country to find work.

But the government is only too happy to spend billions on supporting this mass migration, which is creating serious social discord in local communities affected by such a massive influx.

The Italian bishops have been wading in the issue in advance of the Sunday election, attacking the center-right coalition parties for calling to stop the boats and instead help the poor people (both Italians and legal immigrants) who are already here.

You can imagine what many Italians think of the bishops and Pope Francis and their progressive ecclesial NGO. Mass attendance is in freefall.

Sunday’s election will likely be an earthquake.

[NFR: When I was in Norcia in February 2016, I shared an apartment with a homeless man from Bari. He told me that it really angered him that the Italian government was going out of its way to provide refugees with housing, but not people like him. — RD]

#21 Comment By Kronsteen1963 On February 27, 2018 @ 9:19 pm

So the German Government took in the refugees, but never made any provisions for feeding them. Instead, they dumped this responsibility on groups like Eisenner Tafel. Am I understanding this correctly? How morally bankrupt is that?

#22 Comment By German_reader On February 27, 2018 @ 9:49 pm

“The answer is for the German federal government to get involved by augmenting the feeding of the refugees”

LOL. The “refugees” already get more than enough money to buy food, it’s just that they prefer spending it on other items/sending it via Western Union to their relatives back home – and then use services which weren’t intended for them, pushing the original recipients (elderly pensioners and the like) out of the way.
You’re still painfully naive, as are most of your readers, but I guess that won’t change anymore in this life.

#23 Comment By sjb On February 27, 2018 @ 11:13 pm

It wouldn’t hurt for people to be willing to be disabused of their romanticism about the poor. Fund raisers specifically target those whose heart strings can be pulled and know how to play on egos to make feel good donations. Effective fund raising techniques are well known and some universities even offer degrees in this profession.

One has to learn to sift the chaff from the wheat and realize the poor are not necessarily angelic, thankful, or grateful. They are people just like the rest of us and have their share of con artists and those who will abuse a system if given the opportunity. Below are two reports that help give a better picture of what’s happening in Germany. Their government is quite generous in their welfare benefits including a full ride. The first link from 2015. The second link from 2017.

Snip:
A major reason so many refugees want to settle in Sweden, Germany, and other Northern European countries is that they have generous welfare-state programs for non-citizens. Even so, some refugees can be picky. The Swedish newspaper Local reported last week that “more than 30 asylum seekers refused to get off a bus that took them to temporary accommodation at a holiday park on Sunday night because they didn’t want to stay in such a rural location.

Other countries without an extensive welfare state don’t seem to have Sweden’s problem. Reuters reported that Lithuania “is throwing its doors open to refugees fleeing war and hardship in the Middle East, but is finding few takers.” Rimantas Vaitkus, deputy chancellor of the Lithuanian government, told the news agency: “We are prepared to accept refugees immediately, but there are no refugees in Italy or Greece who agreed to resettle in Lithuania. . . . It seems that refugees know about Sweden, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, which either have generous social security or have been actively attracting immigrants.”

Snip:

What isn’t in much dispute is the estimate that about 70 percent of the arrivals are young men who are traveling alone. Pictures of families with children trudging across Europe tug at the heartstrings, but they aren’t the majority of migrants. In the long term, having a large number of young unattached men will create social tensions.

Europe’s Welfare States Attract Refugees, Moslty Single Men | [site:name] | National Review
[4]

[Germany] According to the Asylum Seekers Act, every asylum seeker receives 135 euros “pocket money” and 216 euros a month to cover the necessary personal needs – if they’re not completely under the care of state authorities.

“Excluding the cost of electricity, you reach about 320 to 350 euros per alias identity and person,” Memenga said.

On average, each fraud suspect, cheated authorities out of thousands of euros. In one case, one asylum seeker had 12 identities.

“He had received some 45,000 euros illegally,” the commission chairman said.

Braunschweig, northern Germany, uncovers 300 cases of welfare fraud by asylum seekers | News | DW | 01.01.2017
Asylum seekers who arrived last year are now being asked to return to registration centers to provide their fingerprints.
[5]

#24 Comment By David J. White On February 27, 2018 @ 11:33 pm

I suspect that what will happen is that the goverment will slap local charities such as this with onerous regulations, enforced by the police power of the state. As a result, the charity — which cannot feed everyone with its limited resources — will close its doors. So no one will get fed. But at least the government will have stamped out “discrimination.”

I suppose that’s a kind of equality, forcing everyone alike to starve as long as some aren’t given preference over others.

What did Anatole France say? “The law, in its majestic equality, equally forbids the rich and the poor alike to sleep under bridges, beg in the streets, and steal bread.”

#25 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On February 28, 2018 @ 12:01 am

Basically if the government is admitting and housing refugees, the government needs to plan for and allocate additional resources needed to feed the refugees. If you aren’t competent at socialist planning, don’t admit the refugees, because the Free Market and the Thousand Points of Light cannot cut it.

#26 Comment By European On February 28, 2018 @ 2:24 am

Noah’s suggestion was not good.
Feeding only the migrant females wouldn’d work either, as the males would only march the girls in to stock up for them, while they hang around outside intimidating away the very same German women, ensuring their girls got the pickings.
I’ve been to food banks, the baked beens, dry pasta and tomatoe soup are plentiful, anything decent is not.
If you don’t live here it’s hard to get across how intimidated lower class females are of just ONE migrant. You don’t know this because they have no voice.

#27 Comment By Daniel On February 28, 2018 @ 8:55 am

Whatever the situation in ones own country -and we must remember there are as many young economic migrants as there are refugees – when one migrates to another country then one is asking for the support of the people of the country in question. In some cases this is possible in others not, it cannot be presumed or demanded that the people of Europe shall be able or willing to feed, cloth and shelter the third world’s population.

The mass number of people entering into Europe have done so of their own volition and by the abject and evidently cruel stupidity of the likes of the German Government. The primary responsibility of feeding and sheltering them in this case belongs to the migrants themselves and to the German Government. Why should the poor of Europe suffer due to the stupidity of their governments?

I don’t see anything wrong with the approach taken by this charity. If there is enough food then mercy should be shown to all and all should be fed, but in this situation that is just not possible.

#28 Comment By Matth On February 28, 2018 @ 10:58 am

The entire concept of nationhood is an exclusive one, and rightly so. There are certainly abuses that nations have committed in the past and may commit in the future (and especially in Asia, are committing now).

But at this moment in the West, we are so far from those dark places that haunt our fevered nightmares that it’s laughable to even worry about it.

So I’d say, by definition, a nation has an exclusive obligation to its own people. It can then, if it so desires, be charitable towards those outside of the nation, whether they are within or outside the political boundaries of that nation.

This isn’t even a right wing position to take. It would have been widely accepted as obvious as recently as the 1980s throughout the world, on both the right and the left, with the only exception being Marxists who supported the idea of a world united by the proletariat.

#29 Comment By Steven On February 28, 2018 @ 11:34 am

“The answer is for the German federal government to get involved by augmenting the feeding of the refugees, given that the federal government caused the problem by taking in many more than Germany can absorb. I can’t see any justification for letting people go hungry.”

I don’t necessarily disagree, and maybe I’m too cynical or just slow on the uptake, but to me, this seems to highlight a big problem of uncontrolled/poorly-controlled immigration, and raises some interesting questions of charity and the government’s role. I think there’s probably some practical lessons to be learned from Germany’s example.

I haven’t researched this particular charity group, but it sounds like it’s not a gov’t-funded organization, which I would think means it’s funded by people’s freewill offerings of generosity. If the government steps in, those funds come from taxes, which are not free-will, and as the burden increases — presumably from non-contributing (non-?)citizens — that tax burden, too, will increase.

People who may have been happy to give to particular charities they support will have less disposable income to do so as taxes are raised (or tax dollars are rerouted from other services) in order to support gov’t-approved charitable operation which those patrons may not support as much (i.e. individuals may prefer their money goes to feed fellow-Germans first).

The scales seem to necessarily tip towards those gov’t solutions…which often seem to result from gov’t-introduced problems.

#30 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On February 28, 2018 @ 12:43 pm

I’m as strong a critic of mass migration and liberal immigration ideals as the next man, as I think I’ve made sufficiently clear at the TAC comboxes over the last few years, but come on. There’s a right way and a wrong way to preserve the ethnic and cultural composition of a nation-state, this is the wrong way.

In the long run, it’s clear to me that Germany, and Europe as a whole, would be better off if these people or their descendants were to leave, either voluntarily or not. In the short run though, they’re here, in Germany. Making their lives unpleasant isn’t going to solve any problems besides, you know, making their lives unpleasant. Underfed, malnourished and sick people aren’t going to be any more likely to move somewhere else, and it’s our duty to try and feed them to the extent we can. (For what it’s worth, I think the same about things like burka bans. I don’t think large scale migration of Somalis and Pakistanis to Europe is a good thing in general, but I don’t see the point of allowing them to migrate and then limiting their ability to be Muslim. Either take them into your country, or don’t, but this halfway sort of measure is pointless).

#31 Comment By German_reader On February 28, 2018 @ 4:15 pm

“Underfed, malnourished and sick people aren’t going to be any more likely to move somewhere else, and it’s our duty to try and feed them to the extent we can.”

Hector, with all due respect, but you’re getting a completely wrong impression. The “refugees” already do get shelter and food provided by the state agencies, plus money…they have no need to use those food bank services, and they’re pushing away people with greater need. When you use public transport or just walk around in any major German town or city and you see all those vigorous, healthy young men from the Mideast and Africa, it’s absolutely grotesque to pretend they’re “underfed” or “malnourished”. It’s simply bizarre to pretend so.

#32 Comment By Janwaar Bibi On February 28, 2018 @ 11:32 pm

When you use public transport or just walk around in any major German town or city and you see all those vigorous, healthy young men from the Mideast and Africa, it’s absolutely grotesque to pretend they’re “underfed” or “malnourished”. It’s simply bizarre to pretend so.

Multiculturalism is Creationism for over-educated people.

How do Creationists deal with evidence that contradicts their precious world-view, such as the red-shift effect? They either dismiss it (“Never heard of no red-shift effect”) or come up with some fantastical, unfalsifiable explanation (“Light gets tired when it travels through interstellar regions so its wavelength increases”) or make ad hominem attacks (“You are blaspheming against the Word of God”).

Arguing with multi-kultis is like that. Tell them that Europe has become a much more dangerous place, particularly for European women, because of uncontrolled Islamic immigration, and their reaction is either denial (“Never heard of no-go zones, Muslim grooming gangs or any other problem, no sir”) or some fantastical explanation (“The problems actually stem from cultural practices observed by Alexander the Great in 330 B.C. and the bushido culture of the samurai”) or an ad hominem attack (“You are racist, Islamophobic, and populist, and your grandfather was an antisemite because he once petted Hitler’s dog”).

In both cases, carefully studied ignorance of facts and denial of common sense are essential to maintain a moronic world-view.

#33 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On March 1, 2018 @ 10:02 am

Arguing with multi-kultis is like that. Tell them that Europe has become a much more dangerous place, particularly for European women, because of uncontrolled Islamic immigration, and their reaction is either denial (“Never heard of no-go zones, Muslim grooming gangs or any other problem, no sir”) or some fantastical explanation (“The problems actually stem from cultural practices observed by Alexander the Great in 330 B.C. and the bushido culture of the samurai”) or an ad hominem attack (“You are racist, Islamophobic, and populist, and your grandfather was an antisemite because he once petted Hitler’s dog”).

I’m not a Multi-Kulti nor a cultural liberal, I’m a strong critic of mass migration into Europe and many other parts of the world, and I’ve never made any of the spurious arguments you attribute to me.

#34 Comment By Dan Green On March 1, 2018 @ 12:03 pm

Another example how the well marketed Social Democratic Welfare State Model has hit the wall.