Giving to charity and French food banks
Just over ten years ago, we did a lot of research into various charitable organizations, as we felt we should contribute to a charity… (but the question was: which one?) and we really didn’t want our donations being swallowed up in huge administration machines.
We wanted to help people in a concrete way. Not just with money.
After much research, we found a charity we were happy with, and have been donating monthly ever since.
But it is hard to know which charity to support, and to have faith that the money you are donating is actually doing some good. Obviously, there are websites where one can check if a specific organisation is reliable or not, if the donations really do go to the beneficiaries, but we really felt that sometimes it isn’t always about money. Far better to actually DO something, but this is very difficult as we all lead busy lives and quite often we don’t have the skills required.
A couple of weeks ago, I was shopping in Super U, our local supermarket, and as I entered the shop a lady gave me a yellow flier.
In France, every November, there is a national collection for the homeless and for families on low incomes. The lady wasn’t asking for money. Could I just put a couple of extra things in my trolley and donate these so that they could be used in food parcels?
What a fantastic idea! By actually donating a packet of sugar, a bag of pasta and a box of soup, I actually felt I was doing something useful.
Bravo to the French food banks!
(The original post was written in 2011 but this is an update in 2022)
Back in 1985, a very famous French comedian called Coluche created the Restos du Coeur. The concept was to open a restaurant service with the aim to provide 2 to 3000 free meals per day during the winter months to people in need. During the course of that first year, 8.5 million meals were given out by over 5000 volunteers.
Over the years, the Restos kept on growing, despite the sudden and tragic early death of their founder in a motorbike accident, and developed into an all-year-round organisation. The Restos started diversifying by offering other services such as emergency housing, training for professional skills, fighting illiteracy, etc.
In 1989, a group of French singers, actors, comedians, etc. formed a group called Les Enfoirés and started organising an annual concert where they all performed for free with all the proceeds from the sale of the tickets, DVDs and CDs of the show going towards the restos.
Today, in 2022, the annual concert is still very much active and keeps gaining in popularity each year. The restos are also very active and for example for the year 2020-2021, a staggering 142 million meals were served. There were 70,000 regular volunteers and 23,000 occasional ones. In 2019-2020, 101.4 million euros were collected in total via donations, event organising, etc.
The Restos du Coeur have really become an institution in France over the last 30+ years and more and more people turn to them for help with food, lodgings, work, etc.