More than 300 schools will take part in this year’s Food Aid & Promotion of Healthy Nutrition Program, which is run by the Prolepsis Institute through a 10,000,000 euro grant by the SNF. The SNF’s overall support for the Program totals 16,000,000 euro, and includes both its pilot implementation, and funding for two full academic years (2012-2013 and 2013-2014). The Program is expected to reach 50,000 students from socioeconomically underprivileged areas of Greece, and aims to reduce the food insecurity experienced by thousands of families as a result of the ongoing economic crisis.
Initially, a pilot program run from April to June 2012, which included 34 schools in Athens and Thessaloniki, with a total of 6,272 students. The pilot program was completed successfully, and the evaluation report indicated the necessity to develop the program further. After almost two years of successful operation, the Program now includes 206 schools across Greece, with 32,358 students. Since April 2012, 3,198,271 meals, 3,249,504 fruit, 1,665,909 cartons of milk and over 200,000 tubs of yoghurt and honey have been distributed through the participating schools. The number of meals in the current academic year is expected to double, exceeding 6,000,000 meals.
The program has a dual aim, as it provides all students participating with the opportunity to receive a daily free, healthy meal, which covers 24-31% of the students’ daily energy needs, and 53-64% of their recommended daily protein requirements. At the same time, the Program introduces to the schools and, through the students, to the families, new nutritional models and habits that promote a healthy lifestyle. By providing specially designed materials and organizing educational events and activities, the Program supports healthy eating and the overall promotion of health, both for students and their families, ensuring that the benefits of the Program will have a positive impact on both the contemporary citizens and residents of Greece, and its future generations.
The quantitative results of the Program, from its launch to the present day, were presented in detail during the press conference. Specifically, at the time the Program began in 2012, food insecurity affected 60% of approximately 16,000 families. In fact, 23% of the families were experiencing food insecurity accompanied by hunger. Following the Program’s implementation, that percentage was reduced to 19%, with the average index of food insecurity dropping by 11%. It is also worth noting that 48% of underweight children who entered the Program had achieved a normal weight by its conclusion, while 47% of overweight children were no longer overweight. In terms of changes to eating habits, there was a marked increase in the consumption of fruit, vegetables and plain milk outside of school, at a rate of 40-47%.
At the same time, there were also significant qualitative features pertaining to a reduction of the social stigma attached to students who are struggling financially, an enhanced sense of collectivity in the school environment, and, by extension, a stronger sense of solidarity and collaboration between students, which are particularly important during the current period.
The number of applications from schools to join the Food Aid & Promotion of Healthy Nutrition Program has reached 774 and is growing daily, which is indicative of the situation faced these days by the lower and middle layers of Greek society. Athina Linou, President of the Prolepsis Institute, stated “The economic crisis is affecting today’s family, which is often struggling to cover its members’ nutritional needs. Food insecurity in certain areas exceeds 60%, a phenomenon that impacts vulnerable social groups most severely: Children are the first victims of the crisis…”
Mrs. Elly Andriopoulou, Co-Chief Operating Officer of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, stated “Programs such as the one implemented by the Prolepsis Institute in the country’s public schools are in line with the philosophy that drives the Foundation’s most recent initiatives, aimed at providing immediate relief to those most affected by the effects of the economic crisis, as well as creating the right conditions to bring about a better tomorrow for our country. The SNF actively supports programs of this nature, substantial and effective, which arm our fellow citizens with strength and with the belief that, if we work collectively, we will be better equipped to deal with the contemporary challenges of our era”.
For more information on the program, please visit: diatrofi.prolepsis.gr.
For more information about the grant, click here.