Between 1,500 and 2,000 families in Iceland accept food donations every month and the need is growing, according to Vilborg Oddsdóttir, a social worker at Icelandic Church Aid (Hjálparstarf kirkjunnar). She estimates that 4,000 to 5,000 families accept donations at least once a year.
Oddsdóttir told Morgunbladid that it is inconvenient not to have exact numbers of people in need of assistance and that there aren’t unitary regulations between charities on who is entitled to receive assistance.
Charities also don’t share information on the individuals who accept food donations, so it is possible that people receive donations from more than one charity at a time, Oddsdóttir said. Cases of abuse are few, but these few cases compromise donations to others in need.
Harpa, a 27-year-old woman from Vogar, is one of those who qualifies for food donations from the charity Maedrastyrksnefnd and has accepted donations from the charity on four occasions.
Harpa said it had been difficult to turn to the charity at first but when she finally did she was warmly welcomed. “Everyone was so kind,” she described. The local church referred her to the charity.
“I had heard about this possibility before but I always thought I wasn’t in such a bad position that I qualified for assistance,” Harpa said. “I thought others were in a much more difficult situation.”
Harpa cannot work due to disability and her husband has not had a steady income. “My husband lost his job in December last year, found another job in August but was notified [on Tuesday] that he would become unemployed again in January,” Harpa said. “It was very difficult, like a blow. We had hoped that maybe now things would work out.”
Harpa and her husband have four children from earlier relationships. The oldest is grown and the other three stay with them on weekends.
Maedrastyrksnefnd, the Icelandic Red Cross and the Icelandic Church Aid will make a special Christmas food donation December 15-18. Applications will be received until December 10.
This week the charity Fjölskylduhjálp Íslands made an emergency call after all its shelves had been emptied in the largest food distribution in the charity’s history.
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