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Volunteer initiative in Paphos breaks 5,000 free meal mark

A small group of volunteers have cooked and delivered more than 5,000 free hot meals to those in need in Paphos in the last few weeks.

Chalkies Bar in Coral Bay in Peyia is currently closed due to the coronavirus pandemic and has re-branded itself as a volunteering initiative ‘Chalkies Kitchen,’ in order to help the community.

Owners, Tony Theo and Judy Mitra decided they wanted to do something practical to help after hearing that there were many people in the Paphos district without money or food, who were ‘falling through the cracks’.

Although one of the Paphos businesses forced to close, they decided that they would try to support as many people as possible, by providing them with a daily free hot food delivery service.

“We are running with a group of our staff and a few others who give their time and energy for free every single day. Our three cooks do all the prep and cooking, take orders and pack the rounds for delivery. We’re here seven days a week and they all give their time free of charge, they work for free every day and they are all outstanding,” Theo told the Cyprus Mail.

The group are feeding many people including hotel and other seasonal workers or casual workers who have no income or are yet to receive any money from the state. Some have no electricity or gas and are behind with rent payments, he said.

“They are lovely people and so grateful, and we’ve had families crying in front of us as they haven’t been able to give their children hot food for two or three days,” he said.

The couple presently have no income but have vowed to keep helping for as long as it’s needed and is possible. They stressed that the group are reliant on donations which can be made through their ‘Go Get Funding’ page. All of the funds raised go toward buying, preparing and delivering meals. So far, around €5,500 has been donated.

Donations of food are also gratefully received, and advice on what’s needed is given to supporters on the telephone or via their Facebook page.

The group has been providing hot meals since March 19 and the demand has been overwhelming. “Although the government’s decision to impose a lock down and stop businesses working was a correct one in my opinion, unfortunately that means a large percentage of the population have no work, income or food to eat.”

Last Sunday Chalkies dished out more than 4,000 free meals and by Monday had delivered close to 4,500 hot meals to those in need. The number has now reached 5,000. They have also decided not to open on May 21 even though they have an outdoor space and could under the lifting of restrictions, but have decided to continue the initiative for as long as it’s needed and as long as they have donations.

“We would rather carry on doing what we’re doing at the moment. We want to give a chance to people to get back on their feet, but we will have to stop as we are a bar by trade and we will need to get back to work, as we need an income too,” he said.

To volunteer, donate or if you need help: Telephone: 26 343511 or www.facebook.com/chalkieskitchen

To donate: https://gogetfunding.com/chalkies-kitchen-feeding-those-in-need/?fbclid=IwAR3uGcL-9z4cviDQnkCDyEOb70Qz_xz_lwGsDuUC8apnJapr1dtx1pEau68

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