THE Spanish government announced on Tuesday that it is introducing supermarket payment cards for vulnerable families so that they ‘don’t have to wait in line at food banks’. The Socialist-led administration said that it was hoping to reach around 70,000 families, or more than 100,000 people, with the scheme from this April onward.

The announcement was made by Social Rights Minister Pablo Bustinduy on Tuesday at a press conference after the weekly Cabinet meeting. 

“Today we are taking a decisive step toward dignifying social protection and so that families with sons and daughters under their care do not have to wait in line at food banks,” he said, in comments reported by news agency Europa Press. 

The government wants to ‘dignify’ access to basic products for vulnerable families.

The idea of the government is to replace the current system, whereby the authorities are in charge of purchasing goods for distribution to families in extreme poverty.

Instead, these payment cards will be available to use in certain chains of supermarkets with the aim of ‘dignifying and normalising’ access to basic products. 

Supermarkets themselves will be responsible for informing families which products they can purchase with the cards and which are excluded from the scheme. 

The model, the minister added, will ‘allow families to directly access fresh products such as fruit and vegetables, which, due to the nature of the previous system of handing out bags of shopping, was not a viable option’. 

The cards will be available to families with children who have an income that is less than 40% of the average. Each of Spain’s regional Social Security systems will be responsible for assessing who is eligible for the cards and for their distribution. 

The government is going to assign €660 million to the scheme for the coming seven years. 

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