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Food Crisis Hits Finland's Poorest

Countries and international organisations around the world are recognising the problem of rising food prices and their impact on the poor. Here in Finland, the "silent tsunami" as it's being called, is beginning to make itself felt among society's vulnerable groups.

Heikki Hursti of the Laupeudentyö Foundation says "Over the last month the lines have grown so that I've calculated that there are anywhere up to 1300 people coming for food."

In spite of the evidence at ground level, officials say they are not yet seeing changes in hard statistical data.

But Ulla Pesola, who is in charge of managing the distribution of food aid from the EU through the Lutheran Church Resources Agency, says her numbers confirm what is happening in the bread lines.

She says with one month's distribution just complete, parishes are already requesting more food aid, and orders for 2009 are already 13% higher than for this year.

Regional Differences Seen "In the eastern part of the country, there are very poor people who don't have access to shops, usually old people. In big cities such as Helsinki, Tampere and Lahti, there are many more single persons and people coming from abroad, from other countries. In the west and north, there are big families -- very often they have seven or 10 children -- and they are really suffering from rising prices," she says. Hursti says that something more needs to be done by all in society to help the poor ride out this wave of increasing prices. But officials at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health point out that structures already exist in Finland to help vulnerable groups.

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