Thousands of Greek school children face one of the toughest aspects of the economic crisis: starvation and hunger. Last week, teachers complained for one more time about pupils who faint in the class room due to starvation. The issue of children going hungry was raised for one more time during a meeting of the Municipality of Athens with representatives of school teachers unions.
“We must teach children who are hungry” Adriani Prokopi from the Teachers’ Association “Parthenon” told the City Council, while Dimitris Mariolis from the Teachers’ Association “Ampelokipoi” referred to a specific case of a school pupil “who had not eaten for two days.”
In a country with no subsidized meals in schools, Greece saw the need in 2014 to provide free meals to students in less privileged areas of Athens, after the urgent calls by international organizations as recession and unemployment swept over the country.
A program with a budget of almost €1 million aiming to provide 10,500 meals to school children on a daily basis through catering was blocked due to … bureaucratic obstacles. A program with 4,500 meals per day for nurseries was initiated in October 2014 with the support of sponsorships, however no free meals reach the schools.
Athens Mayor Giorgos Kaminis assured that the problem will be solved by the end of next week (i.e end of this week).
Following these recent complaints by teachers that some children are going to school on an empty stomach, the Prolepsis Institute of Preventive Medicine, Environmental and Occupational Health released on Wednesday, data from a survey that indicates the extent of the problem.
The organization polled pupils at 64 schools in Athens and found that
25% of the children’s families were suffering from hunger
60% were suffering from food insecurity, i.e. they do not get enough food.
In 61 % of cases, one of the two parents had no income at all (salary or pension).
17% of the families have no income at all.
22% of the familes have 3 or more children.
11% of the children were not covered by social security.
7% of the families had electricity outage for more than a week during 2014.
3% of the families had no electricity during the time the survey was conducted.
The survey was conducted by the Prolepsis Institute among pupils at 64 schools in Athens. Together with the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, Prolespis feeds daily 15,520 pupils, half of them live under poverty line, while almost 60% of them live below the reasonable living expenses.
A total of 1,053 applications have been submitted for inclusion in the Prolepsis & Niarchos foundation program. The applications correspond to 152,397 students. Only 10% of the pupils benefit from the meals-providing program.
According to 2011 consensus, 664,046 people live within the boundaries of Athens Municipality, while 3,753,783 people live in the broader Metropolitan area.
Dramatic situation across Greece
Equally dramatic is the situation in other parts of the country.
54% of the families experience food insecurity
21% of the families experience hunger.
In 40% of families one of the parents had no income, while in 13% of the families no both parents had no income.
“The socioeconomic crisis is unfortunately leaving its mark on the most vulnerable group: the children,” said Prolepsis chief Athina Linou.
PS any idea how families can come along without income? Oh, yes, seek soup kitchens, borrow money to pay utility bills and rent, spend some nights without electricity when the Public Power Company cuts the power due to outstanding bills, freeze because they cannot afford heating, seek medical care and medication by organizations offering services on voluntarily basis. Live the daily nightmare to lose the roof over their heads and being thrown out to the streets.
And be thankful to receive a package with second hand clothes from the charities.
Talking about bitter poverty, broken lives and dignities, here.