FOOD CHECK. It should be one of the first measures to come into force under Emmanuel Macron’s second five-year term, surely before the summer. For who ? What payment date? We take stock.
[Mis à jour le 18 mai 2022 à 08h19] The idea of new aid to try to counter the harmful effects of inflation was already swarming in the minds of the government, long before the second round of the presidential election and the start of Emmanuel Macron’s second term. In reality, the creation of a food voucher has been in the small papers for almost two years, in order to give low-income and low-wage households the possibility of consuming French food, more organic while favoring short circuits despite narrow incomes. Finally, this should be a key mission of the new government of Elisabeth Borne, appointed Prime Minister by Emmanuel Macron: the fight against inflation and its impact on the household budget with several expected devices including a new boost, the check eating. The track had been confirmed by the spokesperson for the last government Gabriel Attal shortly after the re-election of Emmanuel Macron, in the wake of statements by the Minister of Agriculture Julien Denormandie in April, in the middle of the campaign between two rounds. “The idea is to say that today you have nearly eight million of our fellow citizens who have difficulty in having access to local productions, to quality productions, to our French productions in reality and therefore they need give a helping hand to help them acquire this,” he said at the time.
Sea serpent of Emmanuel Macron’s first five-year term, the device of a food check intended to help households reappeared during the presidential campaign, becoming a promise of the re-elected outgoing presidential candidate. What could this food check look like? How will it be distributed or paid out? Who will be entitled to it? The gray areas are still numerous but the device is expected by the summer, in rapid response to the context of galloping inflation which worries many households and undermines the budget of the French. The implementation of the food check could be very complicated. From the mode of payment to the profile of the beneficiaries, the equation is complex. The scheme should primarily benefit young people aged 18 to 25 whose incomes remain relatively low. The families with children and with modest incomes are also at the heart of the reflection.
Who will be entitled to the food voucher? Who will be the beneficiaries?
If Emmanuel Macron is re-elected and sets up this new aid, the food check should be a device aimed at the most deprived people. Emmanuel Macron spoke of “lower classes” and “middle classes” at France Bleu on March 22, 2022. What will be the criteria? Will there be a reference tax income threshold not to be exceeded? For the moment, these questions have not yet been arbitrated. At this stage, several leads are on the table. In 2021, the Ministry of the Economy defended the idea that the system be entrusted to the municipal centers for social action (CCAS), thus targeting 5 million beneficiaries, a track also presented by the citizens of the Citizens’ Convention in their report.
The Minister of Agriculture, he leaned more towards aid for “young people or families with children on low incomes”, in the form of a check or card. The idea is also carried by the deputy of Paris, Mounir Mahjoubi, who defends a project close to that of Julien Denormandie.
Charities, they estimate that the number of potential beneficiaries is much higher, at 8 million. According to a survey by the CSA institute, more than a million French people have used food banks since the start of the health crisis last March. “Having less than a million beneficiaries would not be useful; the real target would be between six and eight million,” said MP Mounir Mahjoubi in an interview with West-France in spring 2021.
Will 18-25 year olds be the first to be affected by the food voucher? What about students?
Will young people be the first beneficiaries of Emmanuel Macron’s food check? Invited by Jean-Jacques Bourdin on April 21, 2022, the Minister of Agriculture, Julien Denormandie, said he was in favor of it, while indicating that the arbitrations had not yet been made. “Today, we have not finished the job,” he admitted, while the decisions were to be made at the end of March. “Today, the number of people affected by this nutritional inequality is 8 million people. For me, my priority, among them, are young people, 18-25 year olds”. He also slipped that the amount of 50 euros was on the table.
Will CAF be responsible for distributing food vouchers?
The Family Allowance Fund does not currently allocate food vouchers nationwide but could be the body responsible for this system, linked to the social aid it already pays. At the local level, certain food aid schemes can already be put in place. It is advisable to contact the social action department of your fund. On its dedicated site, the Caf de Saône-et-Loire notably highlighted the implementation of one-off aid in April 2020, in order to help the most deprived to buy basic food products. The device was then aimed at beneficiaries of family benefits, APL, RSA and the activity bonus.
The amount of the food check is not yet known. For the time being, only the deputy for Paris, Mounir Mahjoubi, has presented a quantified proposal, with a check whose price would be between 30 and 60 euros per month per family. “The total budget could then rise from a few hundred million to two billion euros,” said the deputy in February 2021 to Ouest-France. “Afterwards, this will come into confrontation with other proposals, such as specific allocations for the Covid period. This is the whole subject of the discussions which are taking place at governmental level”, he added then. The powerful agricultural union FNSEA offers a device that would allow you to spend 5 euros a day. Invited by Jean-Jacques Bourdin on April 21, 2021, Julien Denormandie had advanced the amount of 50 euros per month. Regarding the means of payment, nothing has been decided yet. Cheque, credit card or bank transfer, you will have to wait a few more weeks to find out more.
Which products would be affected? Can we buy everything with the food voucher?
The priority of Emmanuel Macron and his government is fruit and vegetables. And French if possible, from short circuits, and organic! This food check could be used in the supermarket or on the stalls of your local markets. According to many indiscretions disseminated in recent weeks, the amount should be fixed around 60 eurosfor an envelope of 4 to 6 billion cost for the State.
What role could the CCAS play in the food voucher system?
The municipal social assistance centres, the CCAS, could have a central role in the allocation of the future food voucher. The Ministry of the Economy defended in any case in 2021 the idea that the municipal centers for social action ensure the distribution (read below). In fact, the CCAS already play a decisive role with the most precarious. They can indeed deliver aid, either in the form of aid in kind (food parcels), or financial aid (aid for school catering, food vouchers or vouchers, personalized support check, etc.).
Would you like to know if your municipality grants food stamps? Turn to your CCAS, because the devices vary from one locality to another. In the Somme department, for example, the CCAS of the town of Albert has implemented vouchers worth 25 euros since June 2020. The number of vouchers varies according to the composition of the household from 4 to 7 vouchers “distributed for a period of 2 months renewable”.
Will the food check allow you to buy organic products?
Here too, the list must be subject to arbitration soon. In their report, the citizens of the Citizen’s Convention for the Climate, at the origin of the project via a presentation in 2021, defended a device allowing the purchase of “sustainable products (from agroecology, short circuits)” . “The term “sustainable” is usually used as designating the 50% of products that must enter into the composition of meals in collective catering (…) resulting from the EGALIM law”, could we read in their report.
“The LREM group offers to offer food vouchers (…) [qui] would make it possible to acquire virtuous products as specified in the Egalim law: fresh products with a sign of quality – organic type or labels – with priority on fruits and vegetables”, then explained the deputy LREM Mounir Mahjoubi in 2021 to the daily regional West France. “Opening up to other more expensive products would not necessarily be significant in the family basket. For us, 85% of the money invested will then have to go back to the farmers. We are however well aware that in certain working-class and urban constituencies, who have few sales in short circuits or on the farm, nothing will be possible if we do not work with large retailers”. The scenario defended by Bercy, which proposes to assign this competence to the CCAS, is also on this line. “The State would therefore pay the difference between a normal food basket and a basket meeting the sustainable criteria (organic, red label, IGP, etc.) defined by the Egalim law of 2018”, can we read in The echoes.