By zero degrees, the tail follows, for 300 meters, the maze of streets of this 13e district in perpetual metamorphosis. A blue T-shirt bearing the logo of the Linkee association over their down jacket, volunteers line up, thermos in hand, distributing drinks and warm words. At the head, we check the student cards with a smile before letting the young people enter a dormant associative café, which leaves room for a parcel distribution two evenings a week.
→ TESTIMONIALS. Students and precarious, they tell
Organic vegetables, cooked meals, cereals… This evening, each of the 500 beneficiaries will leave for free with seven kilos of food. “Products collected from supermarkets, collective catering or even a pastry school, which offers us the work of its students”, specifies Julien Meimon, the president of Linkee, pointing to one of the desserts of the day, a promising Paris-Brest.
Spare his parents
Upstream, it is “A titanic logistics job”, intended to combat both waste and food insecurity which has “Exploded” in the student population, continues this political science teacher, a specialist in development aid. Even before the health crisis, one in five students lived below the poverty line. Since then, 74% of students say they have encountered financial difficulties, according to an Ifop survey for the Fage union.
“I find it hard to recognize myself in the term precariousness. But what do you call it, when you’re ready to queue for an hour in the cold to collect something to eat? “, asks Jeanne, deprived of her odd jobs in the restaurant business. This economics student knows that she can count on her parents if necessary. But she intends to save them, they who, self-employed, have seen their income melt away.
Mehdi, too, worked late at night in a fast food restaurant after his days at English college. “I almost earned a minimum wage”, he slips. But the first confinement came before the end of his trial period. Now, he must be satisfied with a few dozen euros scooped here and there, by answering online surveys. And sometimes lies “Forced to skip meals”.
Students “create the wealth of tomorrow”
“I never thought I would see this in France”, breathes Omar, a physics student from Algeria. He began to frequent these places as a simple beneficiary, before helping in the preparation and distribution of packages: “I don’t just want to take, I also want to give. “
→ EDITORIAL. Trust the students
In a corner of the room, a few pallets as a stage. A gypsy jazz group tints the cast with a note of lightness and conviviality much appreciated after endless months of distance learning. But these almost festive tunes do not erase the ” shame “ who, “The first times”, grabs hold of the students, as a young girl says, preferring to keep her first name silent. “I don’t want my parents to know I’m coming here”, she justifies. “The real shame, rectifies Julien Meimon, it is to see so many students struggling to feed themselves, while by training, they create the wealth of tomorrow. “
Meals at € 1 in “U restaurants”
Initially reserved for scholarship holders, meals at € 1 are now offered to all students, at the rate of two meals per day. Since this announcement made by Emmanuel Macron on January 21, the Regional Center for University and School Works in Paris has served 32,000 take-out baskets. To enable them to reweave a social bond weakened by distance courses, students can once again, as of Wednesday, February 10, take these meals in “U restaurants” in the capital.