Cyprus Mail

Number of food banks jumps to over 50

File photo

By Staff Reporter

THERE are now 53 food banks operating in Cyprus as 300 more families were forced to resort to handouts in March while April numbers are expected to be even higher, it emerged yesterday.

Volunteer and Non-governmental Organisations Commissioner Yiannis Yiannaki told the Cyprus News Agency yesterday: “The stats show that poverty has gone up in March, and April seems to be following the same trend”.

“There’s going to be an increase in April. I wish there wasn’t, but that’s what it looks like.”
The total number of families who rely on charity now exceeds 13,500, including 13,000 children.

Yiannaki noted that unemployment at 17 per cent had taken its toll on the number of families asking for aid in order to meet survival needs.

The Commissioner called on the public to contribute anything they could to food banks, social groups and the Church for Easter.

“With regard to Easter, our effort is to supplement the help we offer with additional items, like meat and chocolate eggs, so that families can enjoy a traditional Easter holiday,” he said.

Yiannaki clarified that the number of people on aid may be understated since the computerised system that will log the location and age group of aid recipients has not yet been installed.

But he said there were currently 53 independent food banks operating in Cyprus, which are soon to be coordinated to prevent abuse.

“Unemployment and poverty go hand in hand,” he said. “Unemployment mostly impacts those in the 30-45 age bracket with families, and they are the ones who need to be supported the most, due to the high cost of raising children.”

Child Commissioner Leda Koursoumba said the generosity shown by people in donating to food banks and other charities should not be a substitute for the state’s responsibility to look after its children and the families who rear them.

She said the fact there were 13,000 children going hungry was all the more reason to press the state into taking on its responsibilities. She said the effects of the economic crisis are particularly acute for vulnerable groups such as children.

“I have repeatedly emphasised both publicly and in private meetings I had with government officials that not only the material needs of children need to be met but also psycho-emotional needs that arise as a result of the economic crisis and the effects it has had on families,” said Koursoumba.

“We need to develop programmes, both within the school and within communities to support children psychologically so they can cope with dignity in this difficult situation.”

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