Eleni,10, and her mom shop for fresh apples and greens at an Athens market using an IOCC prepaid grocery card that allows her mom, an unemployed bank teller, to buy fresh food needed for her family. The IOCC program has provided cards to 1,000 families in Greece living on the brink of poverty.
Greece’s rapidly declining economy prompted the country’s banks to close their doors in July, leaving millions of stunned families and elderly without access to their savings, wages, and pensions.
The uncertain future brought on by the country’s financial crisis is heightening the threat of hunger and poverty among the people of Greece. International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) responded immediately by expanding its relief efforts to the country’s growing number of people in need.
With the generous support of a $500,000 gift from the John L. Santikos Charitable Foundation of the San Antonio Area Foundation, IOCC is increasing its food assistance to help meet the urgent needs of vulnerable families and elderly.
“The Greek banking crisis is a human crisis felt by the most vulnerable members of society,” said Dennis E. Noll, president & chief executive officer, San Antonio Area Foundation. “As a tribute to the late John L. Santikos, a Greek native, we are honored to partner with International Orthodox Christian Charities to aid those hit hardest by the Greek financial crisis.”
Working with a grocery store chain in Greece, IOCC is increasing the number of vulnerable families receiving grocery cards to be able to purchase fresh fruits, vegetables and milk. More than 1,000 families in Greece are currently receiving IOCC grocery cards that allow them to buy items suitable for their dietary needs, rather than collect aid at distribution centers. The agricultural products are all sourced in Greece to support local farmers and milk producers.
In addition to the grocery card program, IOCC will continue to provide dry food parcels through Apostoli and the Church of Greece, support a soup kitchen feeding 1,200 people a day, and provide 500 schoolchildren with basic supplies needed when they resume classes in the fall.
Since 2012, IOCC, in cooperation with Apostoli, the humanitarian arm of the Church of Greece, the Greek national ministries, and the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, has responded to the country’s economic crisis with more than $17.4 million in medical support, heating fuel, food, agriculture development, and job-assistance programs to Greece.
In addition to its work with Greece’s poor, the organization has also stepped up its efforts to support the influx of refugees in the country by providing thousands of hygiene kits at refugee centers on Greece’s islands.
IOCC is the official humanitarian aid agency of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America. Since its inception in 1992, IOCC has delivered $534 million in relief and development programs to families and communities in more than 50 countries. IOCC is a member of the ACT Alliance, a global coalition of churches and agencies engaged in development, humanitarian assistance and advocacy.