German food bank to serve foreigners again after controversy: reports

BERLIN, Mar. 12 — The German charitable association “Essener
Tafel” will once again serve non-Germans after its controversial decision
in January to provide services only to Germans stirred public debate,
German media reported on Sunday.

Officials in the western city of Essen said a decision was taken on Friday
to remove the “temporary measure as soon as possible”.  Jorg Sartor, who
serves as chairman of the food bank’s board of trustees, confirmed to DPA
news agency that it will serve foreigners by the end of March.   The Essen
Tafel took decided in December to ban foreigners from participating in the
food bank’s programs as of January.  Last month, Sartor defended the
decision, saying roughly 75 percent of the people who went to Tafel
locations in the city were foreigners. He said the board believed the
figure was too high.  The Essen Tafel, like others across the country,
operates by providing membership cards to those in need. One card is
allotted per family. In order to qualify, a potential member must be a
beneficiary of social assistance.

At the time, board member Rita Nebel said despite roughly 6,000 people
covered by Tafel Essen membership, “you could sometimes pick the few German
people out of the crowd at the food handovers.”  Following the decision,
six of the food bank’s delivery vans and the entrance of one of its
locations were vandalized, according to a report by German broadcaster
Deutsche Welle.   Similar organizations around the country also criticized
the Essen Tafel for its decision, arguing that people in need should not be
blocked from assistance because of their nationality. – XINHUA