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Free food queues lengthening – new distribution sites opening across the country

The queue for free bread in the capital city area appears to be stretching even further this year. Meanwhile, Vantaa food distribution organisations are anticipating new support from the city.

Ihmiset leipäjonossa Helsingin Myllypurossa.
The bread queue in Helsinki's Myllypuro last December. Image: Yle

Food aid is handed out at Vantaa City Hall on Mondays. The charity organisations who undertake that task are hoping that the city will give assistance by helping them attain a cold transport vehicle. They also say that there is a need for more suitable facilities for hosting food handouts.

“We were on Pentecostal church premises, but our agreement ended in January. Before we distributed free meals three times a week, but this is no longer possible,” says Jarno Eskelinen, the director of Vantaa’s homeless support association Vahti.

Eskelinen says that food-distributing associations don’t at the moment have any cold transport vehicles, which poses a problem in summer time as cold stored foods can’t be sought from stores or logistical centres. Vahti says that it hopes that the city will arrange for and cover the costs associated with renting such a vehicle.

Vantaa City says it’s now looking into how food aid distribution services could be improved. For example, cooperation between the associations managing the handouts could be increased. It would also help logistical problems if contractual arrangements were negotiated with stores.

More people in need

Also in Helsinki, food aid is increasingly in demand. Heikki Hursti has been running a free food service in Kallio for many years.

“We’ve previously had between 2,200 and 2,600 out there in the queue. Now there have been more than 3,000 people – up to a maximum of 3,600,” says Hursti.

According to Hursti, local and government retrenchments related to austerity measures and general economic misery are represented by the increasingly length of the bread queues snaking across the country.

“New food distribution sites have been opened all over Finland,” says Hursti. “I’ve been asked on the phone for help and have offered my own tips and consultation. It is really quite alarming.”

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