Taxes? What taxes? It’s poverty that rules. One in two school children in “vulnerable areas” of Greece does not know if there will be a meal on the family table. According to data collected during the school year 2014-2015 by Institute Prolepsis one in three families live in poverty or social exclusion. From the children enrolled into the school nutritional program, 53% of them experienced “food insecurity”, while 21% experienced “hunger”.
In 64% of the families one parent was without income, while 15% of the families had no source of income at all.
The reason is obvious: the austerity cuts of the last 5.5 years that have reduced the family income at more than 33%.
“Family income reduction, combined with the spending cuts in health and education, which are also approximately at 33%, have led 36% of the population at risk of poverty or social exclusion,” said Prolepsis in a statement adding that this has “a dramatic impact on the lives of the average Greek family and in particular of families living in regions most affected by the crisis.”
Children who are hungry often abstain from visiting school or even stop attend classes.
“The proportion of students who are frequently absent from school for medical reasons is 18% among families with insecure nutrition, while children from nutritional safe families are absent only at 8%,” said Athina Linou, Professor and Director of Laboratory of Hygiene, Epidemiology and Medical Statistics aat the Athens Univesity and President of Prolepsis. She added that “24% of the children from nutritional insecure families have difficulties to follow the classes lessons,” and that “22% of children from vulnerable families have difficulties to meet the classes challenges.
Linou stressed the devastating impact on these children in terms of their mental and physical health. she called on all institutions involved to take action to avoid such a risk that could harm the future of the country in long-term.
In cooperation with several institutions and foundations like the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, Prolepsis provides children in socioeconomic vulnerable areas with meals. Since school year 2013-2013 when the program started, the Institute has distributed more than 11 million meals in 450 schools and 75,000 students.
For the current school year, the Nutrition Program begins this week in schools in Attica, Thessaloniki, Imathia and Thrace. The resources have been secured up to date are sufficient only to cover about 100 schools, with a total of 7,500 students. The number of schools from all over Greece that has applied to join the program is dramatic: 2,032 schools. This figure corresponds to 16% of public schools in Greece and around 250,000 students!
The numbers are indicative for the critical stage of the situation.
PS Food for children? I heard, the government’s priority is tax collection…