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Red Cross “Butteker: no need to choose between eating and paying the rent

28 April 2021

The eight Red Cross social grocery shops (“Butteker”), spread throughout the country, allow those who have difficulty making ends meet to continue feeding themselves and their families with healthy produce. These structures operate thanks to the voluntary commitment of many people.

Being able to eating or pay the rent? Today, many people, many families, find themselves in precarious financial situations. Since last spring, households relying on short or precarious work contracts have found themselves in an even more fragile situation. The economic downturn that the pandemic has imposed on many sectors has a direct impact on those who were working on fixed-term contracts or in temporary employment. Similarly, young people and students who used to supplement their income with odd jobs are now also in a difficult situation.

For all these people, the Butteker are a way to continue to live in dignity. They provide them with food and everyday products at prices two-thirds below the market price. The clients of these special shops see their purchasing power increase all the while having access to fresh, high quality produce: the savings thus made make it easier for them to balance their budget.

Like many other services of the Luxembourg Red Cross, the Butteker operate thanks to the active support of many volunteers. For example, Serge Frank regularly goes to Grevenmacher to welcome and serve the local Buttek’s customers: “I think that when you have the means, it is only natural to help others. Everyone can do it in their own way: I come here and I am also involved in the local section in Dudelange. This is my way of helping those who need it. “Although the way in which he is involved in Donation Month has changed this year – due to the pandemic – he is not letting himself be discouraged: “Of course, we no longer do the traditional door-to-door campaign, but I drop off notices where I used to ring the doorbell. It’s more than just a collection, it’s a way of telling people that they can help, that they are not powerless against the consequences of the virus. You can help in many ways by giving different things: time, money, blood… Every little gesture of solidarity is important and useful.”

This solidarity also lives on in the Butteker, which have remained open throughout the pandemic. More than just shops, they are meeting points for people who are sometimes isolated: “Of course, we quickly put in place what was needed to continue welcoming our beneficiaries. We have hygiene gel Plexiglas partition walls, a limit on the number of people in the shop at any one time and other measures,” says Serge Frank. “But we have always welcomed people. It’s a breath of fresh air for them. They can go out and meet someone… We have a chat, they update us on what’s new. Talking to a human being is something you can’t replace.”

Buttek Red Crosses are located in Clervaux, Differdange, Echternach, Grevenmacher, Mersch, Remich, Steinfort and Wiltz.