From Iceland — Foreigners Also Receiving Food Assistance

Foreigners Also Receiving Food Assistance

Published January 6, 2011

Andie Sophia Fontaine
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About a third of those in Iceland seeking food assistance are of foreign origin, and some believe this is due to their insecure position in Icelandic society.

The Office of Social Sciences, working under the Ministry of Welfare, conducted a survey on what sorts of people in Iceland are going to food banks at places such as Fjölskylduhjálp and Hjálparstarf kirkjunnar. They discovered that while the majority are Icelanders, about a third are foreigners. This is having in mind that less than 10% of the population as a whole is comprised of residents of foreign origin.

Of those foreigners seeking food assistance, 24% were Polish. Poles are currently the largest minority in Iceland, numbering about 11,000.

Michal Gierwatowski, the Polish consul to Iceland, told RÚV that he found these figures surprising. However, Anna Wojtynska, a doctorate student in anthropology at the University of Iceland, expected such results. She has studied immigrant issues in Iceland for some time, and noticed that while 11% of those who are unemployed are Polish, few of them seek help.

However, many new arrivals to Iceland start in low-paying jobs and have little money saved up. Furthermore, many of them have family members in Poland who depend on their income. With the fall of the krónur, many Poles in Iceland have chosen to seek food assistance in order to save money here, while being able to keep sending money to their families.

Many Poles have claimed there has been prejudice against them for seeking food assistance, and say they are often given smaller food packages than Icelanders.

Related articles:
Charity Gives Priority to Icelanders Over Foreigners
Charity Told to Straighten Up

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