Food program draws 2,032 schools

More than 2,000 Greek schools have applied to join a program aimed at providing healthy food to all pupils this academic year, according to data made public Monday by the nongovernmental organization that runs the scheme.

The program, which is run by the Institute of Preventive Medicine, Environmental and Occupational Health (Prolepsis) in cooperation with the Niarchos Foundation, was launched in 2012 when the social impact of the economic crisis was intensifying and increasing numbers of children were attending school hungry.

Last year, half of the children that participated in in the program were suffering from a lack of access to enough food to ensure a healthy life, also known as food insecurity. In six out of 10 cases, only one of the child’s parents had an income, while in 15 percent of cases neither did.

Athina Linou, the head of Prolepsis, said 2,032 schools – 16 percent of all Greek state schools, representing some 250,000 pupils – have applied to join the scheme this year. She described the situation as “dramatic.”

However, Margarita Zota, the principal of a primary school in Aghioi Anargyroi, in western Athens, said things have improved over the past couple of years.

“The cases of fainting and stomach pains have stopped,” she said, adding that previously many children had attended school hungry.

Since April 2012, when the Diatrofi (Food) program was launched, 11 million meals have been served in about 450 schools to 75,000 pupils across the country.

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