In Istanbul, a restaurant for the most underprivileged

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In Turkey, where inflation is at an all-time high, more and more people are struggling to make ends meet and eat well. Istanbul Municipality, led for three years by opponent Ekrem Imamoglu, has just opened its first restaurant for the most underprivileged. Balanced meals served at unbeatable prices. The project, which will expand rapidly, is already very successful.

With our correspondent in Istanbul

The menu of the day: meat and aubergine from the oven, bulgur, chicken soup, yoghurt with garlic and dill. I have tasted everything, I love it! “A single menu, four dishes, all for 29 Turkish lira, or 1.60 euros, not even the price of a soup in another restaurant in Istanbul. Here it is the town hall that manages and serves 500 meals a day in two 80-seat halls, filled from 12 noon to 8 p.m.

Promised by Ekrem Imamoglu, the opposition mayor elected in June 2019, this municipal restaurant has taken a long time to see the light of day, but it comes at the right time. With an official inflation rate of almost 80%, it was almost 25 years ago that the purchasing power of Turks had fallen so sharply.

This canteen-like place is intended for Istanbul residents who need it most: students, the unemployed or low-paid and pensioners. Like Nevin and Fatma, in their sixties, who come to eat here four times a week. ” Only 29 pounds! At home I couldn’t cook the same meal for that price. ‘ says Nevin. ” It has become so difficult to make ends meet. Between bills, shopping adds Fatma.

In the shops the prices are rising every day! Labels change daily! ‘ said Nevin. ” Bulgur used to be the cheapest product Today it’s luxury says the other. ” And yet, according to those who lead us, everything is fine, life is not so expensive. But let them come and see how we live! Nevin is still outraged. Istanbul is the most populous and most expensive city in the country.

► Read also: Inflation in Turkey was almost 80% in June

The restaurant employs only women, in a country where less than a third of women work. Istanbul City Hall plans to open ten before the end of the year.

We know very well that real inflation is twice the official figure, because we experience it every day and because this is the conclusion of independent economists.explains Murat Yazici, the deputy secretary general. Our voters are finding it increasingly difficult to eat healthy, or even not eat at all. We do not pretend to solve the poverty problem with a few restaurants, for that we would have to return to the correct management of the economy. But we do everything we can to help as many people as possible. »

However, the town hall fears that the government will try to hinder its project, as it has done in the past with other initiatives in favor of the most deprived. As inflation fuels discontent, President Erdogan has a vague view of anything that could boost the popularity of opposition mayors, including that of Ekrem Imamoglu, one of his potential rivals in the 2023 election.

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