Inflation is pushing more and more people into solidarity grocery stores

Rising prices are weighing on households. Caritas estimates that many families are at risk of falling into poverty. The magazine 15 Minutes went to meet these people who are struggling to make ends meet.

The year 2023 will start with an explosion of costs: electricity prices may increase by almost 60% for some households according to the Federal Office of Energy. Health insurance premiums will rise an average of 6.6%. To which is already added a rise in prices, in particular of food.

According to Caritas, one in seven people in Switzerland now lives just above the poverty line. This threshold is set at 2279 francs per month for a single person and at 3963 francs for a two-parent family with two children. The general increase in costs risks tipping over a whole segment of the population, notes the association.

Increase in attendance

In its solidarity grocery stores, Caritas is already seeing an increase in attendance: “Compared to the same period last year (October), we have 20% more customers” notes Sophie Buchs, director of Caritas Geneva.

Same observation in Lausanne: “We see more and more new customers, these are people who have a job, but who can no longer make ends meet and I think it’s not going to stop there”, believes Ricardo Rocha, who manages the Vaud grocery store.

Nadia* is one of these new customers of the grocery store located in Plainpalais: “I have had to come here since the Covid, which frankly broke us. Only my husband works and we have two children”. Nadia and her family live in a studio and for some time the bills have exceeded the salary: “We don’t know what to do. My husband and I are seeing a psychiatrist because of this. I’m very stressed”.

>> Listen to the 15 Minutes report

Poverty in Switzerland: “When I think about my bills, I get stressed!” / 12:30 p.m. / 14 mins. / Friday at 12:40 p.m.

Fears for spring

Caritas is not spared by the rise in prices, as Olivier Dunner, manager of grocery stores in Geneva, points out: “Milk, for example, went from 90 cents to 1.10 francs in 6 months, oil also took 1 franc. There are also transport costs which are increasing and we have to pass this on to our prices”.

Sophie Buchs does not hide her concern and expects more consultations with the social services: “What is feared is that many people will come with debts next spring. Those who would have managed for a few months and who would no longer be able to meet the monthly bills”.

>> Listen also to the interview with Florence Nater, Neuch√Ętel Socialist State Councilor, in charge of social action and Eric Crettaz, professor at the Haute Ecole de travail social in Geneva

Increasing attendance at solidarity grocery stores: interview with Florence Nater and Eric Crettaz / Forum / 11 min. / yesterday at 6:09 p.m.

* assumed first name

Coraline Pauchard and Katia Bitsch