Good Holiday Spirit vouchers distributed to homes – poverty reflected in families’ everyday eating habits as well

Kristiina Hemminki
Image: Kristiina Hemminki

This holiday season, donations made to the Good Holiday Spirit collection have brought food to the tables of a total of 28,000 low-income families with children. A survey targeted at the social and health care professionals who decide on the recipients of the vouchers shows that food shortage is not just a holiday period problem for low-income families, but an everyday one.

This holiday season, the Good Holiday Spirit collection organised by the Finnish Red Cross and the Mannerheim League for Child Welfare distributed a total of 28,000 food vouchers to low-income families with children in Finland. The 70-euro voucher allows parents to buy some food for their families’ holiday table.
 
A survey conducted by the Finnish Red Cross in November–December shows that poverty is reflected in the refrigerators of low-income families outside of the holiday season as well. Of the social services and health care professionals who responded to the survey, one in four said that low-income families have to be frugal about food or that their diets are inadequate due to poverty.
 
The survey also highlighted the need for food aid. Of the 108 social services and health care professionals who responded to the survey, one in five mentioned that low-income families with children rely on food aid to survive day to day.
 

– This tells us that the poorest families with children have to constantly rely on forms of aid that are intended to be only temporary or a last resort to be used when all other safety nets fail. Basic social security should be raised to a level that covers the basic necessities of all families with children, such as healthy food, emphasises Maaret Alaranta, social well-being coordinator for the Finnish Red Cross.

Thank you to the donors

As in previous years, this year’s Good Holiday Spirit collection was contributed to by both companies and private donors. We will know the final proceeds from this year’s collection in early 2020, after all the payments have been received.
 
– Every donation is important, as it is people’s willingness to help that allows us to provide aid where it is needed, says Regina Laurén, fundraising coordinator for the Finnish Red Cross.
 
– I would like to extend our warmest thanks to all the donors and volunteers who participated in the collection.
 
The Good Holiday Spirit collection was launched on 21 November. It was organised in cooperation with YLEn aamu, YLE Radio Suomi and YLE Radio Vega. Families have been able to use the vouchers to buy food from the shops of the campaign partners, i.e. K-food stores, Lidl and S Group grocery stores. This year’s collection was the 23rd of its kind.
 
The Finnish Red Cross organised a survey on the poverty of families with children in collaboration with the Mannerheim League for Child Welfare on 24 November–2 December 2019. The survey was sent to nearly 350 social services and health care professionals across the country who decide on the recipients of the Good Holiday Spirit vouchers. During the survey period, responses were received from a total of 108 respondents. The analysis of the responses was conducted by the Finnish Red Cross.