Buttek – Grocery stores against poverty
Despite Luxembourg being a wealthy country at large, the number of local households living in precarious socio-economic situations is steadily increasing. To help alleviate some of the challenges faced by these households, the Luxembourg Red Cross established so-called “Butteker” – social grocery stores where people affected by poverty can buy food and everyday products for about one third of the market price in Luxembourg.
The concept of social grocery stores emerged in France during the late 1980’s as a means to provide temporary food aid to people who are socially excluded, especially vulnerable, or in difficult financial situations. In 2009, the Luxembourg Red Cross established its Buttek network, which currently consists of twelve social grocery stores across the country – eight of which are managed by the Luxembourg Red Cross, and four by the Pax Christi Foundation. The Buttek network is funded by the European Union (EU)´s Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD).
Access to Butteker is granted to people who have a personal access card that has been issued following a request made to social services. Determined according to socio-economic and family criteria, these social grocery stores welcome individuals and families for whom have insufficient disposable income in their household budget to allocate to food and other necessities. The low prices enable families in perilous financial situations to access fresh, nutritious, and high-quality products, helping to promote a balanced diet.
Within the stores, there are unique social spaces to make friends, to meet and to talk, to share information, and to discuss health and nutrition related issues. Employees specifically trained in these aspects, supported by Luxembourg Red Cross volunteers, facilitate exchanges in these spaces, and thus contribute to strengthening social ties among the stores’ visitors. Activities normally take place once a month and include culinary workshops where good eating practices are learned, parent exchanges for those with children, sewing workshops, and other activities.
The health education and promotion offered in the Buttek social spaces, as well as food and other items at a lower price, became particularly important for many people when the COVID-19 pandemic reached Europe in March 2020 and millions of people lost their jobs. The grocery stores have remained open throughout the health crisis, comparable to other supermarkets. During this time, Luxembourg Red Cross staff provided enhanced support and extended the Buttek services to a wider group of people beyond those who own a personal access card, to simplify access to the supermarkets for those who experienced a rapid change to their socio-economic situation as a result of the pandemic.
2009 - ongoing
Luxembourg Red Cross, Luxembourg Ministry of Family & Integration, Pax Christi Foundation, Fondation de Luxembourg