From our special correspondent
The two vans Restos du Coeur are parked behind the former fire center of Saint-Rambert-en-Bugey, a small town of 2,200 inhabitants in Ain. There, at the edge of the Albarine, the river which rushes noisily over the rocks along the railway line, there is a line of trees and a bit of freshness. From the gray van, rented at the local convenience store, Josie, Claude, Michel, Bruno and Pascal, the five volunteers for the day, pulled crates of zucchini, tomatoes, peppers, onions and other artichokes, placed on folding tables. In the white, flocked with the logo of the association, they prepared the shelves of dry products and, in the fridges, placed the stocks of meat, fish and dairy products.
Here is Nathalie, who has already put some vegetables in her shopping bag and comes under the awning of the second vehicle. “How are you, Natalie? What do you want for protein? Chopped steaks? Do you need eggs? We have cans of tuna and mackerel if you want”, asks Pascal, who, thanks to a small plastic abacus, designed with a 3D printer by Claude, scrolls the points. In the Restos system, Nathalie, who lives with her two daughters aged 22 and 24, one of whom is disabled, is entitled to 18 points.
“It will last the week”, believes this 47-year-old woman. She lost her job at the Ligne Roset furniture factory, where she worked for eighteen years and since then “I’m struggling to make ends meet” explains the one who, despite several training courses, has been at the RSA for five years. But there is no way to get food aid at the Restos d’Ambérieu center, 11 km away, because Nathalie, who is currently passing the code, does not have a car.
“Our volunteers have found it difficult to reach certain rural audiences who are in some way in the black spots when it comes to social services, explains Patrice Douret, the president of Restos du Coeur. So some decided to meet them with vans. » If the first itinerant Restos center was created in 1998 in Sarthe, the movement has developed especially since 2017, when that of Ain was born – initially to overcome a difficulty in finding premises.
Now, the Restos have 37 and identify 38 new implementation projects. “With the rise in the price of food and gasoline, the needs are growing”resumes Patrice Douret, who specifies that, like the fixed centers, the itinerant sites “are also designed as entry points to direct those received who wish to do so towards other services”, such as assistance with administrative procedures or referral to employment assistance (read the marks).
In 2020 and 2021, 220 people, including 107 families, were supplied by the “Bugey Itinérant” restaurant service in five rural municipalities. “We are in deep Bugey here, there are a lot of people who need help but they could not necessarily come to our fixed centers because they are not transported or they have trouble paying for petrol”, confirms Bruno Langlois, one of the 23 volunteers invested in this mission.
It’s not Marilou who will contradict him. Met in Tenay, a village nestled against a cliff and second stop of the day for “Bugey Itinérant”, this 25-year-old pregnant woman, who has just been diagnosed with a herniated disc, announces: “The car has just let us go”. It is not the good moment. If Marilou has been unemployed for two years, her spouse has just started a new job. And the couple, who are several months behind in rent and are in trouble with their landlord, cannot afford to lose it. “If I didn’t have the Restaurants, well, I don’t know… Maybe I wouldn’t eat”, she predicts.