Publication
Title
Shifts at the margin of European welfare states : how important is food aid in complementing inadequate minimum incomes?
Author
Abstract
In recent decades, disappointing poverty trends and welfare state limitations in many European countries – including constraints on minimum income benefits – have paved the way for a larger role of the third sector. An interesting but controversial form of third-sector in-kind support is food aid provision. In Europe, food aid is, so far, a non-rights-based practice displaying worrisome discretionary and stigmatizing characteristics. Yet, the phenomenon of food aid in Europe has spread, professionalized, and penetrated the institutions of the welfare state. This raises the question if, how and to what extent food aid plays a role in bypassing structural constraints on minimum income protection. This article applies an exploratory case study approach to estimate the monetary value of food aid in relation to statutory minimum incomes in four EU-countries. We use cross-nationally comparable food reference budgets to price food aid packages in Belgium, Finland, Hungary and Spain. The results show that food aid, although not sufficient to close the at-risk-of-poverty gap, is non-trivial for some European households. In Spain and Belgium food aid packages can reach up to €100 a month (expressing 7% to 11% of respective minimum income benefit levels). Importantly, we perceive (formalized) cooperation and interaction between local welfare agencies and food charities in all countries, suggesting that welfare state actors use non-rights-based food aid for filling gaps in the social safety net. The large between- and within-country variation of the monetary values of food aid packages points, however, to food aid as a problematic discretionary practice.
Language
English
Source (journal)
Journal of European social policy. - Harlow, 1991, currens
Publication
Harlow : 2024
ISSN
0958-9287 [print]
1461-7269 [online]
DOI
10.1177/09589287241231889
Volume/pages
(2024) , p. 1-15
ISI
001169572500001
Full text (Publisher's DOI)
Full text (open access)
Full text (publisher's version - intranet only)
UAntwerpen
Faculty/Department
Research group
Project info
Rights-based versus benevolent solidarity in European welfare states: the case of food banks and minimum income protection.
The Future of European Social Citizenship (EUSOCIALCIT).
Publication type
Subject
Law 
Affiliation
Publications with a UAntwerp address
External links
Record
Identifier
Creation 22.02.2024
Last edited 02.04.2024
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