Inflation affects everyone, but the poorest French people suffer more directly. This has social and even health consequences. And the government is looking for a solution. Jean-Rémi Baudot’s political briefing

Something is happening in the consumption habits of the French. Since prices have soared, supermarkets have been selling fewer vegetables, less fish and fewer fresh products. More worrying is the fact that low-income families are increasingly turning to “first price” products, which are often sweeter or fatter. These are also highly processed ingredients that can turn into junk food. An observation which becomes a political subject.

Food is the thermometer of French people’s choices. And this situation could have an impact in terms of public health. An advisor to the Ministry of Health deciphers the correlation between food and health: “The poorest families have twice the risk of obesity”. And with fuel poverty, food is one of the great challenges of the executive. To respond to the food banks faced with increasingly long queues, the government has multiplied its aid. Recently, Elisabeth Borne announced the creation of a fund of 60 million euros. This money will be used to provide food aid with more fruits and vegetables.

The always postponed promise of “food vouchers
But for the other French people, what to do? Recent supports such as rebates at the pump have benefited everyone, even the richest. There had been the idea of a “food voucher”. Some people even imagined targeting the healthiest products such as organic food. Again this Sunday, the Minister of Economy, Bruno Le Maire, said he was in favor of a food voucher, provided that it was to buy French agricultural products. But let’s face it, none of this exists for the moment: it is very complex to set up. The government is still looking for a solution.

To really reach the most precarious, the simplest solution is to increase the minimum social benefits. But for political and budgetary reasons, the government prefers the use of one-off vouchers. This avoids, among other things, installing these increases in the long term. Behind the scenes, Jean-Christophe Combe, France’s Minister of Solidarity, Autonomy and the Disabled and former head of the Red Cross, is preparing a “solidarity pact” with new measures for 2023. But in the associative sector, many are already worried about the 15% increase in energy bills scheduled for the beginning of January and are wondering what will be the choices of the most precarious people after food.