News / Europe

More Greeks Use Soup Kitchens as Economy Worsens

More Greeks Use Soup Kitchens as Economy Worsensi
|| 0:00:00
X
Dominic Laurie
June 21, 2012 6:19 PM
As Greece approaches five years of recession, the number of its citizens unable to provide food for themselves is increasing. Soup kitchens in Athens used to be the preserve of undocumented immigrants and the homeless, but now more people from the general population use them too. Dominic Laurie reports from Athens.
TEXT SIZE - +
Dominic Laurie
ATHENS - As Greece approaches five years of recession, the number of its citizens unable to provide food for themselves is increasing.  Soup kitchens in Athens used to be the preserve of undocumented immigrants and the homeless, but now more people from the general population use them too.  

It's just before lunchtime.  Bowls of hot pasta are being made up for more than a hundred children.  But this is not a school.  It's a facility run by the municipality of Athens to feed those who can no longer afford to feed themselves.  More and more Athenians are coming here - especially pensioners, and families with children.

It's run by George Apostolopolos and a team of volunteers.  And though money from the city government has been sufficient so far, he's not sure how long that will continue.

"We are afraid about the future because we don't know about the next day - that is the biggest problem we have, it is a little unknown the future, we try to do the best," Apostolopolos said.

Earlier, before the television cameras showed up, the courtyard was full of adults of all ages lining up for food.  But filming the event was not allowed.  Many people don't want their families to know they are here.

But, two soup kitchen users agreed to speak about their situations.

Christos says he had a good life until a few years ago.  He lost both his parents, then had a serious car crash.  He took drugs to ease the pain from the injuries, and lost his job.

"I am 48 years old. I remember 44 years of my life, maybe 43," he said. "This is the most difficult situation that I have ever seen here in Greece"

His friend Maria says she used to run a clothes shop, but then she lost her job when the crisis hit.

"So after that, I lost my home because every month i had to pay month 450 euro," she said. "So 20 days now I am homeless and I am eating here every morning 12 o'clock and 5 o'clock in the afternoon."

The offerings from facilities like these don't seem to be enough though.  Hundreds of Greeks lined up in a Central Athens park for free vegetables this week.  Farmers from Crete handed out 27 tons of egpplant, peppers, tomatoes and other produce, with the help of the local government.

"We won't solve any feeding problems, but we're starting solidarity, a display of Greek solidarity, that shows that during these times we Greeks are united," said Nikos Saprovalakis, a food company executive who was helping out.

Spiros Kalamantis was one of those lining up for a food rescue package.

"Because I have been unemployed for some years, I thought I'd get one [box] too," he said. "Because I'm unemployed. Nothing more."

More and more Greeks need a helping hand.  As unemployment rises, alongside taxes, even feeding oneself is proving hard for many. Yet another challenge for the new Greek government in its first few days in office.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid