The Alicante residents who are forced to be vegetarians

FRESH MEAT: Is a rarity for people relying on food handouts.

THE worst of the economic crisis might be over and more people might be in jobs than formerly, but poverty is still around.

More than 50,000 members of Alicante Province’s population cannot afford to eat meat or fish once in two days, according to Spain’s National Statistics’ Institute.

The people who queue up each day at social dining rooms and charities know this all too well. “You don’t get fresh food anywhere apart from the filling in the bocadillos that Caritas give out,” said Ramon, who was waiting for provisions at the back of the Nuestra Señora de Gracia church in Alicante City.

“We can’t give as much as we’d like,” admitted Antonio Moya, president of the La Prosperidad residents’ association in the San Gabriel neighbourhood. Each day they organise a social dining room that provides food for approximately 100 people. “The Food Bank and some supermarkets donate food, but it’s usually greens and vegetables and non-perishable goods. Sometimes a supermarket will give us frozen cuttlefish and we use it for paella but generally our main course is eggs and chips, day in and day out,” Moya said.

The dining room first opened two years ago to provide food for 30 people but now there are more than 100 and there is a waiting list. Moya also said with sadness: “With pain in our hearts we have to leave 50 outside because we can’t cope with more. We don’t have assets and we depend on the generosity of neighbours, businesses and the Food Bank.”

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