The food bank has seen a rise in human trafficking victims showing up at its doors for help, administrator Rev. Kim Hurst has warned.

“We are seeing a rise in people who are being promised work in Malta, often seasonal work or work in care,” she told Times of Malta

The food bank has been working with the human trafficking department to provide victims with food until they go back to their home country or manage to get a work permit.

“They hand over their passport, come to Malta, pay for their trip and then do not get a work permit when they are here… They end up in Malta with no way of managing to survive,” Rev. Hurst added. 

Rev. Kim Hurst said that the numbers of those relying on the food bank are on the increase.

The food bank, which was set up four years ago, has helped over 6,000 people this year alone. The total value of food handed out in the first five months of this year reached €86,826, Rev. Hurst said.

When it first opened in 2015, the food bank distributed 240 packs of food, which more than doubled to 832 packs in 2016. The numbers continued to increase to 2,125 in 2017. Until the end of August of 2018, 2,150 packs of food had been handed out. 

A low minimum wage and rising rent costs all led to more people who were not able to afford food every day, Rev. Hurst said.

They end up in Malta with no way of managing to survive

Malta’s national minimum wage of €762 is below the European Union average of €922.

“Each year the number of people coming to us has increased and in May the number went up again. We are now handing out between €4,000 to €5,000 worth of food a week,” Rev. Hurst said.

“If, for the rest of this year, we remain constant, we will feed an excess of 16,500 people handing out food to the value of €225,000,” she said.

Rev. Hurst said the food bank had originally started out planning to be an emergency crisis centre, however, the numbers grew far beyond what she originally imagined.

President Emeritus Marie Louise Coleiro Preca, who recently became part of the food bank foundation’s board, thanked Rev. Hurst for having a vision to help the poor.

“The authorities can address the issue of rising rents, but there were more causes that needed to be dealt with,” she said.

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