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Russians Grow, Share Food as Economy Struggles

  • Daniel Schearf

Russia's struggling economy has plunged millions of people into poverty as the Russian currency lost value and inflation soared. As prices have gone up, more Russians are relying on gardening to supply their food.

During Soviet food shortages, gardening at traditional Russian country homes — known as dachas — was a matter of survival.

But with Russia's shrinking economy, even some modern families in Moscow are relying on vegetables from the garden.

"Our grandma has a dacha where she grows lots of things like cabbage and beets,” said accountant Irina Bulozhenko. “I am cooking borscht right now and I am using our [her] beets and carrots. The onions are ours [hers]. So we are saving on what we have grown in summer. So that's why we don't feel it so badly."

For some struggling families, growing their own food is still not enough.

Russian volunteers run a food-sharing program to collect restaurant extras and distribute them to those in need.

"For my family, food sharing is very important,” said donation recipient Tatyana Golubyeva. “We spend now a lot less on food than before, when we did not know about food sharing and did not use it. Now we hope that we'll get not only bread, but some other food, as well."

For Golubyeva’s family, food donations have cut their grocery bills in half.

"I think that food sharing has a big future and big prospects in Russia,” said food-sharing volunteer Svetlana Kalmykova. “The main thing is to inform the public about it, so that people learn what it is and what is needed to be done. I think that many will join."

Meanwhile, Russians hope the economy recovers soon, so supplementing the high cost of food becomes less of a growing issue.

Olga Pavlova and Mark Grinberg contributed to this report.

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