“It will change my life”: in Gironde, 400 residents are experimenting with social food security

“It will change my life”: in Gironde, 400 residents are experimenting with social food security
“It will change my life”: in Gironde, 400 residents are experimenting with social food security

The windows of the grocery store have the merit of immediately attracting attention. The kind of storefront that will make you look up from your cell phone. “Épi C’tout” displays a brown sticker. “Solidary, participatory, eco-citizen”, announces another sticker. Curious. A slight hubbub is heard a few steps from the scene.

“Could you pass me some chocolate, please?” », a man asks a woman. Two other people are talking. A seemingly innocuous scene. Except that it takes place at Local’Attitude, a grocery store of around 30 m2 installed in the northern districts of Bordeaux. And that several of the products scrupulously selected by this gentleman with square glasses bear a label different from the others: “For social food security”.

Loose vegetables, dark chocolate bars, trays of strawberries… Half a dozen edibles are stamped with them. “All fruits are approved », explains Olivier, member of the grocery store’s collegial council, who places the products in a bag before walking towards the cash register to pay for his purchases.

The MonA, a food currency for currency

The transaction is most curious. Olivier doesn’t take out any cash or bank card. He only gives his first and last name, then the cashier prints a receipt with the total amount of his shopping calculated in an unknown currency: 20 MonA. Because here, purchases are made with a “food currency”, the MonA.

“The approach is still very new. It has only been installed in our home since April 30,” the 49-year-old man is satisfied. The beatific smile he displays borders on euphoria. He is one of the rare elected officials to be able to benefit from Social Food Security (SSA) in Gironde.

The experiment, launched on March 19, 2024, was born from the initiative of the Acclimat’action association, of which 40 citizens from the commitment paths towards food democracy in the department of Gironde and the Bordeaux town hall.

Like Olivier, 399 other Girondins from 193 households (in Bègles, Bordeaux, Pays foyen, and Sud-Gironde) with different incomes were drawn by the department to receive, for one year, a monthly allowance of 150 MonA, l The equivalent of 150 euros, to which are added 75 MonA per additional person in the household. “We started from the observation that today food insecurity is increasing. Too many people in financial difficulty make trade-offs at the expense of their food. However, they should not be condemned to junk food”summarizes the socialist president of the Departmental Council Jean-Luc Gleyze.

For this, the choice of participants was made according to the criteria of income and composition of each person’s household.. The experience had already been launched in Montpellier in February 2023. But this is the first time that it has been deployed on a departmental scale. A much-needed initiative given the 200,000 people experiencing food insecurity in Gironde (i.e. 12% of the departmental population).

“My expenses represent almost 90% of what I receive”

The approach is intended to be an extension of Social Security. Four local food funds are set up (one in each territory). Participants meet there every month to discuss the functioning of their fund. Among the topics covered: the agreement of new points of sale.

The latter are chosen according to five criteria: “accessibility and inclusiveness”; ” well being at work ” ; “transparency and fair remuneration”; “locality of products” and “sustainable agricultural practices”. To be 100% approved, an establishment must be able to meet these five requirements.

The common fund then redistributes the allocations and coordinates the four local funds. She also ensures the financial, scientific and overall monitoring of the project and works on advocacy. The participant contribution is defined according to the principle: “From each according to their means, to each according to their needs”enacted in the 19the century by the socialist Louis Blanc, popularized by Karl Marx, and foundation of our current Social Security. The minimum amount is set at 10 euros. The MonAs are then deposited into a digital account.

“This will change my life”, rejoices Giselle, retired. Met that morning at the civic third place La Boussole, in Captieux, she is one of the people from the commitment journey towards food democracy who worked on this experiment. Originally from Fontainebleau, the sixty-year-old moved to Gironde seven years ago. “I had set up a wood painting micro-business, but Covid swept everything away and I ended up collapsing. Financially, it was hard. I was forced to register at the food bank in Bazas”confides the former hotel housekeeper.

For five years, the sixty-year-old went without meat. The SSA gives him the opportunity to obtain it again. An observation shared by Mary, 32, a single mother with four dependent children, used to queues at food banks and RSA recipient. “ My expenses represent almost 90% of what I receive. I’m at around 1,000 euros in charges, between the rent, the canteen, the daycare and the leisure center, says the young mother. People think I have no expenses because of the benefits I receive, but that’s not true. »

Funding worth 539,000 euros

The SSA also allows producers participating in the experiment to diversify their income. This is the case of the Carrazes, a family of four organic cattle breeders, owners of a butcher’s shop in Bazas. “We have been in agriculture for thirty years, thirty years we have been told that our products are expensive. But it is the others who sell their products at prices that are too unreasonable”, underlines Myriam Carraz, mother of three children. In her butcher’s shop, she sells her kilo of meat for 16.50 euros.

“Some supermarkets offer it for two euros! This is inconceivable for us given our cultural know-how, the fact that we are organic and our work ethic”, shouts the one who sells Bazadaise meat, popular in the town.

In order to be approved, the SSA charter requires producers to have an organic AB, Nature & Progrès label or a minimum equivalent. “It’s an incentive to move towards more ecological practices”specifies Jacques Beaucé, market gardener in Lados, at the Jardins de Bouet.

However, it is still too early to draw conclusions from the experiment. The project is expected to last only one year. Time for the department to assess whether the hypothesis of a self-sufficient fund is possible. For now, according to projections made by the departmental council, this contains 539,000 euros. Funds created for the fund from the contributions of participants (214,000 euros) and stakeholder communities.

Afterwards ? The president of the department Jean-Luc Gleyze has ambition for the Gironde version of the SSA: “Why not transform this experience into a bill? Similar initiatives are emerging throughout France. Let’s think about it in order to be able to challenge the government on this experiment which ensures fairer remuneration for our farmers and quality food accessible to all. »

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