More and more Germans are seeking help from food banks and charities due to record-high inflation and soaring energy bills.
According to the federal food bank umbrella organization Tafel Deutschland, demand has increased compared to the previous year, with more than 2 million people now relying on food donations, visiting food banks and local charities.
Heike Bensch, a 41-year-old mother of five children, is among those receiving help from a local charity in Berlin. Bensch says that although she has a job, she is struggling to pay the bills.
“I work as a cleaner for four hours a day. But it’s hard to make ends meet because everything is getting more expensive. You can see it in the food prices,” she told Anadolu Agency.
“We know that electricity is getting more expensive. We’re already paying a little more and are able to buy less food now. Especially for the kids we can’t buy anything. You can also notice the price explosion in school materials.”
With child benefits and her wages, she has a total of €2,000 ($1,965) monthly to live on and support her five children.
Unable to keep the wolf from the door, Bensch regularly visits the charity Die Arche’s facilities in Berlin to receive support, especially for her children.
The current energy crisis in Germany and skyrocketing bills have made life more difficult for lower-income households.
“When it gets slightly dark in the evening, we try not to turn on the lights right away, or we try to save electricity in other ways,” she said. “When it gets colder now, we won't turn on the heating. We will instead put on a sweater."
Russia’s war on Ukraine and growing tensions between European countries and Moscow have pushed energy prices higher.
Energy prices were 43.9% higher in September compared with the same month last year. There was also an above-average rise in food prices by 18.7%, according to the German statistical office.
Households will have to pay around €3,500 for gas this winter – nearly three times what they paid last year, according to estimates.
Bensch expressed frustration with the German coalition government for not taking serious measures to support lower-income households in the country.
“I understand that they also help other countries. But for their own country, they do nothing,” she said.
Latest surveys show that Germans are deeply worried about the energy crisis and rising inflation, more than the war in Ukraine.
A recent study by polling firm Civey showed that the energy crisis is currently the number one concern of Germans, polling at 68%, followed by inflation at 64% and the war at 55%.