A lack of donors and delays in the arrival of public funding puts the continued work of Emaús, which feeds over 550 people at four soup kitchens across Malaga province, at risk. The non-profit organisation is often short of funds to pay for its costs, according to the group's coordinator Eva Casal.
Emaús has agreements in place with the councils of the four towns it operates in (Torremolinos, Vélez-Málaga, Estepona and Antequera), none of which have given the organisation any funds so far this year. The daily service, which is now at risk, includes hot lunches, as well as sandwiches, biscuits, fruit and other items for breakfast and dinner.
In Torremolinos, where Emaús launched its first soup kitchen to help people at risk of social exclusion in the 1990s, the local council had signed an agreement stating that it would provide the organisation with 5,400 euros each month if it agreed to cater for people over the age of 65, dependents and people who had problems with mobility. The agreement has spent a long time in the offing due to a wide variety of contractual issues.
The soup kitchen that has the most daily users is the site in Vélez-Málaga, which is visited by close to 200 people per day. The council made a delayed payment of 45,000 euros to the organisation in December 2017, but those funds were used to pay staff salaries. The organisation has asked for the money to be paid earlier this year, but the local council had said that this is “unlikely” as they “still haven't approved this year's budget”.
The situation is brighter in Estepona where the town hall takes care of water and electricity bills, as well as providing 18,000 euros of funding per year. This is paid regularly in August (80%) and December (20%). The premises used in Estepona, as in Vélez-Málaga, are loaned from the town hall.
The soup kitchen facing the greatest financial difficulties is in Antequera. “It uses up resources from the other three locations in the region,” explained Casal. “The council had previously told us that it would help with supplies,” a promise that “has not yet been kept”. The Antequera branch receives 6,000 euros annually from the local council, the lowest amount out of all four locations in Malaga province.
As well as public funding Emaús survives thanks to donors, although numbers have fallen in recent months.
“People think that the crisis is over and that we don't need as much help any more, but the reality is that we still have to provide food for hundreds of people every day,” said Casal.
Anyone interested in becoming a regular donor is invited to call Emaús on 951696224. The association has also organised a series of activities to raise awareness of its work, gain extra income and attract new volunteers.
Agustín Peláez, Charo Márquez and Antonio J. Guerrero have contributed to this article.