If you’ve been following the news at all in the past year or so you have noticed a wave of economic crises rippling across Europe which have left countries like Greece at the brink of collapse. With the economy in “free fall, having shrunk by 20 percent in the past five years”, Greece has dealt with unprecedented unemployment rates topping out at 27 percent. With a large portion of the unemployed reporting being out of work for more than a year, you can imagine the amount of strain put on a family’s finances - not to mention the dire straits of the government which has been busy attempting to repay bailout funds.
Because its current economic state, Greek students are suffering from “food insecurity” – a term defined by public health professionals as an elevated risk for facing hunger. Students are arriving to school hungry. There have been reports of some students fainting, stealing food, and even sorting through school trash cans for food. In 2012, 10 percent of elementary and middle school students suffered from being underfed and, at times, malnourished. This percentage has recently been compared to the “level of some African countries.”
Since there is little to no money left in Greek coffers for assistance, there is little hope for many Greek families. Many feel there is little they can to help their starving children. Those living in urban areas have been hit harder than those living in rural areas because of their ability to grow some food.
This is not to say families have been completely left to fend for themselves. Charitable international organizations like the Stavros Niarchos Foundation financed an $8 million expansion of a program called Prolepsis which provides “a sandwich, fruit and milk” at public schools with suffering children. Also, the Greek education minister “secured European Union financing to provide fruit and milk in schools, and vouchers for bread and cheese.” The Greek Othrodox Church is providing support services as well. In fact, some school principals have taken it upon themselves to organize food drives. Without more assistance, Principal Nikas claims that “unless the European Union acts like this school, where families help other families because we’re one big family, we’re done for.”