The EU “Food Distribution Program for the Most Deprived Persons”

The EU “Food Distribution Program for the Most Deprived Persons” (MDP) is an important source of provisions for organizations working in direct contact with the least fortunate people of our society. The program has been in place since December 1987, when the Council adopted the rules for releasing public intervention stocks of agricultural products to Member States wishing to use them as food aid for the most deprived persons of the Community.

Over the years, the program has become an important source of provisions for organizations working directly with the underprivileged. In 2010, over 18 million people benefited from the program, including about 2.8 million in France.

Successive reforms of the Common Agricultural Policy have led to a much more market-oriented system, resulting in far lower intervention stocks. Therefore, the European Union funded the plan to be able to directly purchase products on the market for the MDP. The funding for 2013 will be €113 million. Each Member State then has to set up the food distribution through certified charity organizations, giving preference to products of European origin and choosing food products on the basis of objective criteria including nutritional values and suitability for distribution.

The distribution of food products to the most deprived persons of the European Union (food distribution program) has taken place for more than two decades and has positively contributed to the social cohesion of the Union by reducing economic and social disparities.

©Xavier Remongin/

©Xavier Remongin/

The French food aid program: Programme National d’Aide Alimentaire

The French food aid program – Programme National d’Aide Alimentaire, or PNAA – was adopted in 2004 to complement the European MDP. In 2012, the total budget attributed to this program was €10.4 million.
In France, four associations are certified for the distribution of food, on behalf of both the MDP and the PNAA: The Fédération Française des Banques Alimentaires, the Restaurants du Coeur, the Secours Populaire Français and the French Croix-Rouge whereas the national agency FranceAgriMer organizes the repartition of the funds and the purchase of food.

©Pascal Xicluna/Min.Agri.Fr

©Pascal Xicluna/Min.Agri.Fr

The amount and duration of this support depend on each person’s economic situation and its evolution, as well as the structure of the family. Only the people who deal with a very precarious situation or who are homeless can receive unconditional assistance. The others need to pay a nominal price for their food from €0.5 to 20 % of the price of the meal. The meals distributed depend on the needs of the different age groups of people (babies, children, teenagers, adults, seniors) as well as their ability to prepare meals at home.

While the MDP focused on basic food products (rice, sugar, milk, cereals), the PNAA funds the distribution of other essential products like meat, fish, fruits, vegetables or sunflower oil that are often under-consumed by the least fortunate people. Focusing on this type of products was also a way to adapt to the needs of all the population, especially to babies’ and children’s diets.

Finally, through the National Program for Food (PNA), the government leads an information campaign on balanced diets and on the National Health and Nutrition Program recommendations to the people receiving food aid.