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ON THE GROUND

Food insecurity hits middle class amid Lebanon’s economic crisis

Georges Jassous (L) and his family have cut back on food purchases as the value of Lebanon’s currency has fallen sharply.
Georges Jassous (L) and his family have cut back on food purchases as the value of Lebanon’s currency has fallen sharply. © FRANCE 24 (screengrab)

Lebanon’s economic downturn has caused food insecurity for poor and middle class families, who are finding it difficult to afford staples such as bread, butter and cooking oil. Local collectives are distributing free meals in Beirut, but the devaluation of Lebanon’s currency makes it hard to obtain vital ingredients like rice and lentils. FRANCE 24’s Leila-Molana Allen reports.

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For several months, Georges Jassous and his family have had to give up buying certain foods, as Lebanon experiences unprecedented inflation. Jassous has earned nothing for months, but still has to provide daily meals for his 5 grandchildren, whose parents are unemployed.

"A pat of butter costs 16,000 Lebanese pounds (€9.4),” Jassous said. “We go without. As for vegetable oil, we buy it as needed. Cans are overpriced they went from 5,000 LL to 10, then to 15 and to 20,000 (€11.8). We now also deprive ourselves of oil, only buying small quantities.”

>>Read: Lebanese pound plummets to record low, sparks mass protests

Now, Jassous and his family rely on local collectives that distribute free meals in the city, like one run by Cyril Badaoui, a lawyer, and a handful of volunteers. After starting by distributing food to 40 people three months ago, Badaoui’s team now feeds 200 every day. Some of these beneficiaries were middle class just a few months ago.

“Unfortunately, the middle class has been disappearing for the past three to four years. We are in a time when we have extremely wealthy people and others who are poor or extremely poor,” Badaoui said.

Click on the player to watch the full FRANCE 24 report.

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