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Brussels taxis distribute food aid to people in need

A homeless man receives a warm drink and food from volunteers in Brussels (BELGA PHOTO ETIENNE ANSOTTE)
10:13 03/12/2020

The Brussels Solidarity Action Reaction (SBAR) organisation set up taxis to distribute food parcels to families in difficulty as well as meals and blankets to the homeless in the Brussels-Capital region, Abdelkarim Dari, president of the SBAR and Elite Taxi Belgium associations, announced this week.

It was originally a citizens’ initiative that began at the beginning of the first coronavirus shutdown in March. The Brussels Youth Association made its premises in Place Verboekhoven in Schaerbeek available to volunteers from where they provided about 100 hot daily meals during the early stages of the first coronavirus wave and climbed to a maximum of 1,300 before reducing production. At the height of the initiative during the first wave, more than 26,000 meals were distributed on site in one month. People from squats and social initiatives also came to collect food parcels.

After the first shutdown, continuity was ensured during the summer at the rate of two to three hot meals per person per week.

In order to avoid overcrowding when the initiative relaunched, the association has organised itself differently during the second wave by making deliveries to those in need. A taxi service for this purpose was launched in mid-October in Brussels, much like the initiative bearing the same name that was organised in the Paris region. The service currently operates with 65 taxi drivers, in addition to the other people who run the project. Last weekend, the taxis delivered more than 650 packages to families in difficulty. On Sunday, deliveries were made to people living in squats. On Monday, the taxis brought blankets, cushions and meals to the homeless.

"Taxis have time because it's very quiet at the moment," explains Abdelkarim Dari. "When the drivers distribute the parcels, they realise that people are living in much more difficult conditions than they are. It is a historic crisis what we are experiencing with Covid-19 and we are trying to show solidarity."

SBAR operates on the basis of donations from citizens made directly to food suppliers, who deliver pallets to the association.

Written by Nick Amies