Spain's northeastern city of Girona said Tuesday it will put locks on the garbage bins of supermarkets to stop people scavenging for food, a practice that is growing due to the deepening economic crisis.
The municipality said in a statement it had taken the decision along with supermarket owners "due to the health risks that could arise from eating food thrown into the bins and the social alarm it causes."
It had also set up an information system to guide people needing food to a distribution centre where they can receive a food basket containing essential items, the statement added.
"At the moment there is only one bin in front of a supermarket with a lock and it contains food items whose expiry date has passed, to prevent the food from being taken away by the homeless," a spokesman for the municipality said.
Girona has reached an agreement with three large supermarket chains to intall the locks and hopes more chains will join the initiative, he added.
Spain is struggling with its second recession in four years and an unemployment rate of nearly 25 percent following the collapse of a construction boom in 2008.
There are more than 1.73 million households where all eligible workers are out of work.