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Hundreds surviving on food handouts
ALTHOUGH hundreds of families in Cyprus are currently dependant on food packages given by the church and municipalities in the weeks and months to come more and more people will be unable to provide for their family, organisations have said.
In Nicosia alone, the church helps 1,397 families, while municipalities elsewhere in Cyprus provide regular food packages for hundreds more. In Limassol there are 230 families, in Larnaca 150, and in Paphos 500.
“Cases that last year were considered urgent, aren’t considered so this year,” said the head of Limassol municipality’s social welfare department, Evie Tsolaki. She helps coordinate the community market providing packages for families from donated food, household and clothes items. The number of people asking for help keeps rising and they now have to turn away cases they would have considered urgent just a year ago, Tsolaki said. And the Limassol bishopric’s soup kitchen that has been around for six years says that requests for help have doubled this year.
And though in Limassol the soup kitchen serves 500 people daily, parish priests across Nicosia collectively help 1,397 families, and more keep coming. “The Palouriotissa parish, for example, began with 66 families and has reached 104 to date, while the St Spyridona parish started off with 92 and now totals 138 families,” said the archbishopric’s Father Ieronymos, who runs a food package help programme.
Larnaca municipality that has seen its community market programme almost quadruple in size in the eight months it has been around, has said it is impossible to help everyone. In March, the community market provided weekly food parcels to 40 families but last week it was giving basic food items to 150. “We can’t give everyone food, and although we don’t want anyone to go hungry in Larnaca, there are strict guidelines that we must follow,” said councillor and head of the committee that runs the scheme, Elias Elia.
And in Paphos, where social welfare now helps 500 people with food support, officials are grinding their teeth in anticipation.
“This is a terrible situation and we are doing what we can to help, but I believe it will get worse before it gets better,” said the head of Paphos’ social welfare committee, Maria Zavrou.