E-vouchers and other means shall allow continuity of current operations funded by the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD). How can it work in practice?

As of April 25, FEAD implementing authorities and organisations can make use of electronic vouchers to provide food and basic material support for people in need. Introduced as a coping mechanism for the current crisis, e-vouchers are most probably meant to stay. Our report on “Innovative tools to support Europe’s most deprived”, looks at their potential for beneficiaries and implementers.

EU Food aid under constraint due to COVID19

“In Athens, we had to introduce home distributions, as picking up food at our distributions points has become, too risky, especially four our elderly beneficiaries”, reported one of our Greek members. This illustrates, which unprecedented logistical constraints, many FEAD implementing organisations are currently facing, due to the outbreak of COVID19 and the related measures of social distancing.

EU measures to facilitate food distribution

To meet these challenges, new legislative measures have been taken at EU level. The amendments to the FEAD regulation adopted on 22 April, enables the buying of protective equipment for those delivering aid. Food and basic material assistance can be delivered through vouchers, lowering risks of infection.

Introduced as a mechanism for the current crisis, e-vouchers will most likely remain as a means of implementation, as already in 2018, the Commission proposed their permanent introduction for the new FEAD programming period starting in 2021.

New ESN publication on future e-voucher use in FEAD

In order to discuss, how e-vouchers and cards could be used by local authorities to enhance FEAD support for Europe’s most deprived we held a roundtable discussion in the European Parliament in February 19.

Indeed, our discussion with representatives from European and local authorities, concluded that e-vouchers could help to solve many issues experienced throughout FEAD implementation. on the one hand local authorities could save costs for transport, storage and distribution of food, on the other, beneficiaries would profit from their increased capacity to make their own choices, when purchasing their food directly. With the introduction of electronic vouchers beneficiaries of food support could also avoid stigmatising queuing at FEAD distribution points. By adding accompanying measures such as health and employment services, public authorities may be able to achieve one of FEAD’s main objectives: enhancing the social inclusion of its beneficiaries.

Please, have a look at the full event report on “The Future of FEAD: Exploring Innovative Tools to Support Europe’s most Deprived”, to read how public authorities might use e-vouchers in FEAD, as a tool of social support and inclusion, also in hopefully soon arriving post-corona times.

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