Who are the Restos du Cœur?
In 1985, the French comedian known as Coluche announced live on TV that he “had a little idea.” Coluche wanted to create a restaurant for the poor, and thus was born Les Restos du Cœur (restaurants of the heart).
Although Coluche died only two years later, Restos du cœur lived on. Over the years, it grew into a big association that today numbers 73,000 volunteers and has supplemented its meal distribution with a long list of services.
35e année d’engagement dans toute la France de nos 73 000 bénévoles. 133,5 M de repas distribués, 900 000 personnes accueillies, des milliers d’autres aidées dans la rue. Les Restos restent plus que jamais déterminés à lutter contre toutes les formes d’exclusion et de pauvreté ! pic.twitter.com/t97Yoe2dPW
— Les Restos du Coeur (@restosducoeur) November 26, 2019
What do they want?
For their 35th winter campaign, the Restos du Cœur are directing their focus on student poverty, after a young man set himself on fire in Lyon on November 8th to protest the authorities removing his €450 grant.
Young people account for more than half (51 percent) of those benefiting from the restaurant's services. Last year Restos du cœur hosted 900,000 persons of 26 years old or younger. Of those, 24,000 were students (12 percent of the total), a number that according to the association is growing.
Other groups benefiting from the association's help are homeless, unemployed or people with low-income.
The vast majority of people receiving help from Restos du Cœur are people from 26-60, many of whom are unemployed. Seniors (people above 60) account for 6 percent of the beneficiaries.
Forty-two percent of the people receiving help are singles without children, whereas 25 percent are single parents. Couples with children make up for 24 percent of the total.
Who can access the help?
While anyone can benefit from a hot meal in one of the Restos du Cœur centers, the association's policy is strict when it comes to receiving regular food packages. Beneficiaries must sign up every year to justify their financial status.
The association uses the documentation received to identify the needs of the person who signs up, whether it's housing, work, training, health assistance or other.
How you can contribute
Opération paquets cadeaux, or operation gifts, is an annual event were Restos du Cœur put up stands in supermarkets all over the country (find the one closest to you here). You can wrap and give away a gift at the exit, or contribute with a financial donation.
These are the products most needed:
- Cereal, oatmeal and other dry-foods
- Canned meat, fish,vegetables and fruit
- Hygienic items (tampons, sanitary pads)
- Baby formula