Food Bank’s survey on the needs of soup kitchens supported by the Athens Food Bank

Food Bank’s survey 

”food needs in the general population”

Food Bank’s work brings it into constant contact with grassroot organisations at the base of social care. They rely on the initiative of private citizens who give something of themselves to help the less fortunate. Many of the organisations are small and almost invisible, but both large and small make up an extensive web that fills in gaps government welfare programmes cannot get to. Because of their closeness to the problems of society, these organisations have direct knowledge of current needs and can assist those in need more efficiently, without excessive bureaucratic formalities. However, although elsewhere, private charity is officially recognised and rewarded, in Greece, the state, instead of encouraging such activities, it often treats them with suspicion. This is one of the reasons we decided to look more systematically into the matter, and we are starting with a survey of and area with which we are familiar – soup kitchens. Who organises them? Who do they help? What are their food needs? Where do they get food and from whom? Simple questions. The 46 soup kitchens we selected are all located in the Attica region and regularly feed 16,916 persons. They are just a sample of the hundreds operating in Greece.

One significant finding of the survey was that, due to the crisis and pandemic, the number of those seeking food support is steadily growing, as are individual needs. Another is that soup kitchens receive practically no help from central government. The second holds true even though the Government has access to programmes such as the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD), which manages hundreds of millions of euros provided by the EU specifically to fight hunger, but of which Greece utilises a very small portion of its allocation.

We believe that the building of trust and a closer working relationship between the central government and the network of private charity organisations, would have a positive impact on the whole of society.

Panagis Vourloumis

President, Food Bank foundation

Comparing data from 2019 and 2010, in Greece food insecurity increased 48%.

Though in 2010 it was in 15th place, in 2019 it was in 5th place amongst all EU countries.