More and more pensioners in Germany receive free food from the Tafeln (food banks). According to the Federal Association of Tables, their number has doubled within ten years.
"Almost every fourth Tafel customer is now a pensioner. That is about 350.000 people", said Jochen Bruhl, chairman of the association, to the "Neue Osnabrucker Zeitung". In 2007, senior citizens accounted for only 12 percent of those in need.
The president of the social association VdK, Ulrike Mascher, called this "a clearly visible signal" that poverty among the elderly is on the rise. "The policy must act finally."The Paritatische Wohlfahrtsverband called for a fundamental reform of the old-age pension system. To effectively combat old-age poverty, the entire system must be reorganized, explained the association’s pension expert, Joachim Rock.
The Left Party also expressed alarm. Party leader Bernd Riexinger tweeted, "Such a thing must not be in a rich country!Sabine Zimmermann, deputy chairwoman of the left-wing parliamentary group in the Bundestag, blames the labor market policy of recent years for the development: "The years of expansion of the low-wage sector have left people with less and less money in their pockets.
The managing Federal Minister of Social Affairs, Katarina Barley, therefore once again campaigned for the introduction of a solidarity pension. "People who have worked hard and earned long periods of contributions should not have to go to the social welfare office," the SPD politician said. Already in the election campaign, the Social Democrats had demanded a solidarity pension for long-standing low-income earners, which should be above the basic security level. Barley stressed: "A reliable income in old age is one of the core promises of our society."
According to the umbrella organization, there are more than 900 food banks throughout Germany, which regularly provide up to 1.5 million people with food. Bruhl warned that poverty is the breeding ground for the feeling of being left behind – "and thus ultimately also paves the way for extremism".