Norwegians lining up for food

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Lines at soup kitchens aren’t just occurring in crisis-struck countries in southern Europe. Some people are waiting more than four hours for food handouts in Oslo as well, when their cash doesn’t last through the month.

Unemployment remains low in Norway but those out of work are finding it harder to find jobs. Unemployment benefits and welfare, meanwhile, don’t cover both food and housing in high-cost Oslo, and officials at welfare agency NAV are advising the government to boost them.

Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported Monday that Joshua Jallow, age 57, has to stand in line at Fattighuset (The Poor House) in Oslo’s Grønland district at the end of every month. He told NRK he can’t live on the NOK 5,500 (USD 1,000) he receives in welfare assistance.

Around 10 percent of Oslo’s population is defined as poor, and the lines have grown longer at both Fattighuset and Blå Kors in recent years. Last Friday, newspaper Aftenposten reported that people started lining up before 8am at Fattighuset, which opens at noon. Labour Minister Hanne Bjurstrøm isn’t convinced, though, that boosting benefits is the solution.

“I’m listening to what NAV says, but the most important thing for me is that NAV offices around the country make good individual evaluations,” Bjurstrøm said.

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