It is “After M”, proclaims the new sign enthroned on the roof of this former McDonald’s in the northern districts of Marseille. Quite a symbol, for the initiators of this new social fast-food inaugurated on Saturday, December 19, who could count on the support of the former MEP José Bové in the launch of their project.
Stopped since its judicial liquidation in December 2019, the McDonald’s in Saint-Barthélémy, requisitioned by former employees with the support of local residents and numerous associations, has become the center of a social project combining a food bank with a place of training and professional integration, within a district – the 14e – where the poverty rate exceeds 40%.
Its organizers, who claim the support of 54 associations, indicate in particular having distributed, during confinement, tens of thousands of food parcels and hygiene kits, without any public aid.
“If it is possible here, it will be possible everywhere”
On Saturday, the first menus, at the center of which are organic or vegan burgers, and imagined by local restaurateurs, were offered to the inhabitants of the neighborhood, who, not happy to have been greeted by a brass band, were also received by various politicians. – candidates from Europe Ecologie-Les Verts (EELV) or La France insoumise (LFI) in the 2021 regional elections – as well as by the former leader of the peasant world José Bové.
“This place has become a symbol”, launched to the press the former ecologist MEP, amused to see “A junk food symbol transforming into a place of solidarity”. This project “Goes beyond this district or Marseille, because if it is possible here, it will be possible everywhere”, he added. He suggested to “McDonald’s France to sell its premises for a symbolic euro to the association or to the city of Marseille”, in order to facilitate the social fast food project at work now.
“What does this represent? I know how it’s built, I took one down ”, he had fun, referring to the famous dismantling of McDonald’s in Millau (Aveyron), in 1999, in which he had taken part, in order to denounce an unbridled globalization in the same way as the ” junk food “.
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“A human symbol”
Fathi Bouaroua, president of the association “After McDo”, was concerned about a possible sale of the premises by McDonald’s France. “We are in danger; there is urgency for us ”, he explained, calling on elected officials from all sides to come and support them. “We are waiting for our mayor and all the deputies”, he launched, stressing however the fact that some, such Jean-Luc Mélenchon (LFI) and Saïd Ahamada (LREM), had already come.
“We are in contact with the city, to whom we have asked to allow us to meet McDonald’s”, he said. “We don’t want to make this place a political symbol but a human symbol. Above all, we seek to fight poverty ”, explained Kamel Guemari, former employee (and also trade unionist) of McDonald’s Saint-Barthélémy.
The association intends to disappear in favor of a SCIC, a cooperative society of collective interest, in which employees, former employees, inhabitants of the district, public authorities and funders would be represented.
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