The outlet of the Tafel food bank in the northern German city of Essen resumed handing out membership cards to foreigners after two months on hold, giving in to public pressure.
As Deutsche Welle reports, the charity's chairman Jörg Sartor shared his relief that the nation-wide uproar was "finally at an end." He announced that the charity would reverse the controversial decision to prioritize people in need depending on their background earlier this March.
One of the biggest German NGOs, with 930 outlets, has been in hot water since the beginning of 2018 following the December decision of the Essen branch to refuse new membership cards to foreigners, thus giving priority to German passport holders.
The organization management referred to the new policy as a “temporary measure” and defended their decision by saying elderly Germans had been scared away from weekly food pick-ups. Sartor told DW that there had been several complaints about "too much pushing and shoving."
The company also pointed out that the proportion of foreigners who pick up food from them has risen to 75 percent of the estimated 6,000 people it caters to, and in the situation the food aid lacked resources.
The new policy triggered a stormy reaction from the management of other German food banks and politicians, who slammed the NGO for xenophobia. So Chancellor Angela Merkel disapproved of Tafel’s cost-cutting measures despite expressing comprehension about its shrinking resources. Besides the company property was attacked, as vandals covered doors and delivery vans of organization in Essen with "F*** Nazis" graffiti.The criticism got stronger when another Tafel outlet in the western town of Marl imposed the same policy as their colleagues from Essen.
The German food charity collects food that is nearing its expiration date from eateries and supermarkets and redistributes it among needy families at a specified time every week. Unemployed and low-income people can take advantage of the social program.
The Tafel controversy fueled debates over dealing with the migrant crisis in Germany. These heated up with the creation of the new government coalition and appointment of Horst Seehofer, known for his tough stance toward migration, as the new Interior Minister.
Since 2015 Germany has been dealing with a record high influx of migrants as a result of the German Chancellor’s “open door policy” towards people fleeing devastating wars and military conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa. Over past three years, about 1.5 million refugees have arrived, prompting local authorities to allocate huge sums for migration-related issues.